Turkish social media users call on authorities to release woman jailed with her baby

Şadinaz Yaşa Yılmaz

Turkish Twitter users are calling on authorities to release Şadinaz Yaşa Yılmaz, the mother of a 10-month-old infant, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Yılmaz was sent to prison on May 16 over alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist” activities, despite a law requiring the postponement of prison sentences for women who are pregnant or have given birth in the last 18 months.

She was arrested by a local court in İstanbul for depositing money at the now-closed Islamic lender Bank Asya.

Hundreds of social media users shared the hashtag “OnAylıkKubra TahliyeOlsun” (Release 10-month-old Kubra) during the week.

Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu also took part in the campaign.

Turkish authorities continue jailing mothers with their babies as part of a crackdown on alleged members of the movement.

In May Hilal Keser, the mother of a two-and-a-half-month-old infant, was also sent to prison in the central province of Afyonkarahisar.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In the wake of the coup, having an account at Bank Asya was presented by prosecutors as evidence of membership in a so-called “terrorist organization.”

The detention and arrest of pregnant women and mothers with young children dramatically increased in Turkey in the aftermath of the coup attempt.

Human rights advocates have said children accompany their mothers in prison at very young ages, which are often critical periods in their mental and physical development. However, children are not provided basic needs such as crayons or toys. Some cells are not provided with a carpet for crawling babies, and inmates make rugs out of blankets. Many children do not have their own beds and share their mothers’ food.

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