Woman says her grandchildren have suffered psychologically since their parents were imprisoned for Gülen movement affiliation

A woman taking care of her imprisoned daughter’s children said she was arbitrarily imprisoned for affiliation with the Gülen movement and that the children were suffering psychologically, Turkish media reported.

In an interview with KHK TV, a YouTube channel, Hanife Algan said she had been taking care of her two grandchildren aged eight and five since her daughter Tuba Tuncer and her husband Mahmut Tuncer were arrested. Algan said her daughter’s arrest was unnecessary because she was not a flight risk as she was working to take care of her children and was visiting her husband in prison.

Algan added that her son-in-law was arrested four years ago for alleged membership in the Gülen movement. Tuba Tuncer was also arrested twice but released under judicial supervision. The couple had worked for a private dormitory for university students.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016 and labels it a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Algan said her daughter attended all her court hearings and regularly checked in with the police, which was a condition for her previous release. “My daughter worked at the local market trying to care for her children. Her only concern is to provide for her children. She is not guilty, and I will fight for her to the end.”

Algan said she suffered from diabetes and heart problems and was not in good enough condition to look after two children. “The children have been under a great deal of stress. They refuse to eat, and the younger one cries all night for her mother, while the eight-year-old has completely stopped talking.”

According to Algan, her daughter experienced social exclusion after her husband’s arrest. “They were evicted from their home. No one wanted to hire her, and she was left with no money.”

She said Tuba Tuncer had a traffic accident on the way to see her husband in prison and was unwell for two years and also had problems with her lungs.

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. Over 540,000 people were detained on terrorism-related charges, more than 80,000 were arrested or imprisoned and over 150,000 public servants were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations.” The purge mainly targeted people who were allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement but included other people from a wide variety of backgrounds as well.

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