Turkish physics teacher arrested by court due to objection by prosecutor, leaves her baby behind

Derya Erkan, a physics teacher in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Samsun, was arrested by a local court on Sunday for alleged membership in the Gülen movement, forcing her to leave her infant son in the care of a neighbor.

The same court had previously ruled for the release of Derya Erkan, who was detained on February 26, and had decided on March 1 for her house arrest. However, according to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Sunday, she was arrested by the same court due to the objection of a prosecutor. Erkan was arrested and sent to prison.

It was also reported that her husband Erdal Erkan’s interrogation has been continuing since February 26 while in police custody.

According to a Twitter account named Mağduriyetler, which reports on the ongoing rights violations in Turkey that escalated in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Derya and Erdal Erkan have a son, Semih, who is still being breast fed.

Erkan is one of the dozens of mothers who have been separated from their children due to a government-led crackdown on the Gülen movement. More than 17,000 women in Turkey, many with small children, have been jailed in the unprecedented crackdown and subjected to torture and ill treatment in detention centers and prisons as part of the government’s systematic campaign of intimidation and persecution of critics and opponents, a report titled “Jailing Women In Turkey: Systematic Campaign of Persecution and Fear” released last April by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) revealed.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. On December 13 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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