Turkish woman jailed over alleged Gülen links not released despite serious health risk

Birgül Bulut, one the more than 17,000 women who have been jailed in Turkey in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, is not being released from prison although she suffers from a serious heart problem, according to a report by the online news outlet Aktif Haber on Tuesday.

Bulut has recently suffered a coronary artery spasm and is also a chronic asthma patient. She has been jailed in an Erzurum prison for three-and-a-half months. Although doctors say the woman could suffer a heart attack at any time, she is not being released from prison.

Bulut’s husband Hikmet has been behind bars for two years in a prison in Tokat province due to his links to the Gülen movement. The couple has three children who are being taken care of by relatives.

Meanwhile, Serap Öztürk, the mother of a 2-month-old baby, has been arrested by a Turkish court over alleged links to the Gülen movement. According to the @magduriyetlert Twitter account, Öztürk was detained on March 21 in İstanbul and jailed on March 23 over alleged membership in the movement. The claim has neither been confirmed nor denied by Turkish authorities.

Women who have been jailed in an unprecedented crackdown have been 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 in April 2017 by SCF revealed.

In several cases, women were detained in the hospital immediately after the delivery of a baby and before they had a chance to recover. Many women were jailed as they were visiting their imprisoned husbands, leaving the children stranded in the ensuing chaos.

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 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 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, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said 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.” (SCF with turkishminute.com & turkeypurge.com)

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