University student arrested for links to Gülen movement says he was robbed of his future

A university student who was arrested for alleged links to the Gülen movement in a letter from prison said he had been robbed of his education and future opportunities and demanded his immediate release.

In the that letter has been circulating on Twitter since Tuesday evening, 21-year-old Ibrahim Enes Gacar said he had been an honor student before his arrest. “Even the guards say I’m harmless and have a heart of gold. I ask you, have you ever seen a harmless terrorist?” he asked. “I will be the first terrorist in the history to have a heart of gold.”

After his arrest Gacar was put in solitary confinement for two weeks under quarantine regulations. He said the cell was filthy and freezing cold and that he got sick during his stay there.

Gacar was a student at Turkey’s prestigious Boğaziçi University. In March 2020 he moved back with his family due the COVID-19 pandemic and did his studies online for eight months. He was arrested eight months after moving in with his family and has been in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison ever since.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group 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 a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

“I was 19 years old when I was arrested,” said Gacar. “I have been under arrest for nearly 500 days, and I need the public to know this.”

Gacar said he was arrested after a man known only as L.K. accused him of membership in the movement and that authorities had no other evidence against him.

Human rights advocates and Boğaziçi University student groups expressed their solidarity with Gacar on social media.

According to a statement from the Turkish interior minister, a total of 319,587 people have been detained while 99,962 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup.

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