Woman detained over links to Gülen movement after giving birth

A woman was detained less than 24 hours after delivering a baby yesterday for alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, Bold Medya reported.

Betül Uluçam, 34, was detained in the hospital where she had given birth less than a day before. Her newborn baby daughter and 6-year-old son were left with their grandmother, while Uluçam was taken to the Salihli Courthouse in western Turkey.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a prominent human rights activist and deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), slammed the detention on his social media account saying the government had stooped so low as to detain a woman who had just given birth.

According to legal experts, the arrest of pregnant women or women with babies falls afoul of Turkey’s Law on the Execution of Sentences and Security Measures, which stipulates that “execution of the prison sentence is delayed for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last year and a half.” But the detention and arrest of pregnant women and mothers with babies have been continuing unabated in Turkey.

According to the family, the police came twice in two days for Uluçam, finally detaining her after the birth. Uluçam was a teacher at an educational institution that was closed down by a government executive decree.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement 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 locked up thousands including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on them.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Fethullah Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive coup or any terrorist activity.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Nov. 26, a total of 292,000 people have been detained while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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

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