Woman urges authorities to release her mother, detained for alleged links to the Gülen movement

The daughter of a woman who on Thursday was detained for alleged links to the Gülen movement said on Twitter her mother was in poor health and called on authorities for her immediate release.

Zehra Sarıkaya said her mother, Müzeyyen Sarıkaya, would appear in court on Friday. Adding that her mother suffered from high blood pressure, Sarıkaya said she could not endure the emotional stress of being in detention.

 

“I found out about my mother being detained while I was in school, and I have been trying to find out which police station she was taken to,” Sarıkaya said. “I wish the authorities would just leave my family alone.”

Zehra Sarıkaya explained that her father, Ramazan Sarıkaya, was arrested for links to the movement and has been in a prison in Balıkesir province since 2019, despite suffering from renal failure.

Ramazan Sarıkaya has just one kidney that was only 50 percent functional before he was arrested. However his renal function dropped to 30 percent in prison. A month ago doctors told Ramazan Sarıkaya he urgently needed a kidney transplant.

Before her detention Müzeyyen Sarıkaya had been trying to get her husband released from prison. Previously speaking to the Bold Medya news website, she had said her husband was still not convicted of a crime but was kept in prison despite his deteriorating health. “His kidney is at the point of no return, and he needs a transplant. Who will be held accountable if something happens to my husband?” Müzeyyen Sarıkaya had said.

Zehra Sarıkaya and her 15-year-old sibling are now waiting at home for their mother to be released. “For years we have been hoping for my father’s release, but instead my mother also got detained,” Sarıkaya said. “What are we supposed to do? I want my family back.”

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 intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, of masterminding.

A total of 319,587 people were detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in November.

Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing critically ill prisoners so they can seek proper treatment. Human rights defender and HDP deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said ill prisoners were not released until they were at the point of no return.

HDP deputy Züleyha Gülüm said political prisoners were the most disadvantaged and were often the least likely to be released in the event of a serious health problem.

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