Yet another family ruined as mother dies while purge-victim father is in jail

Two-year-old Elif Zehra Çalışkan is now without parents as her mother died after falling from a balcony and her father, an academic, has been in jail for two years due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, an opposition deputy has announced.

The toddler’s mother, Halime, 30, died after she reportedly lost her balance on the balcony of her apartment, which was on the fourth floor of a building in the western Turkish province of Çanakkale. The possibility of a suicide is also under consideration as Halime had been taking anti-depressants for two weeks because she was unable to visit her husband in prison due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.

Gergerlioğlu tweeted about the ordeal of the Çalışkan family over the weekend.

The woman’s father has also been in jail for three-and-a-half years due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.

Çalışkan’s husband, Hidayet, among the thousands of purged civil servants who were subsequently jailed, attended his wife’s funeral on Sunday with special dispensation from the prison administration. Elif Zehra was in the arms of her father during the funeral. Hidayet Çalışkan returned to the prison following the funeral, leaving his daughter to family members who would take care of her from now on. (

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