Turkish teacher with newborn baby to serve 15 months for praising terrorism

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Ayşe Çelik

Ayşe Çelik, a Turkish teacher who was sentenced to one year, three months in prison for praising terrorism and a terrorist organization in 2016, was notified on Friday that she, along with her 2-month-old baby, would begin to serve her sentence in 10 days, human rights advocate Omer Faruk Gergerlioğlu reported on Twitter.

Çelik was sentenced to one year, three months in April 2017, and an appeals court upheld the sentence in October.

On the night of Jan. 8, 2016 a woman who introduced herself as Ayşe Çelik went live on the “Beyaz Show,” hosted by renowned Turkish comedian Beyazıt Öztürk, and talked about the clashes that had been raging for months between Kurdish militants and Turkish security forces in Diyarbakır, the largest city of the mainly Kurdish Southeast.

“Are you aware of what’s going on in the country’s east? What’s happening here is misrepresented on television. Don’t stay silent! Please show more sensitivity as human beings! See us, hear us and give us a hand! I’d like to address the teachers who have abandoned their students. How are they going to return there? How are they going to look those innocent children in the eye? What a pity! Don’t let people die. Don’t let children die. Don’t let mothers cry.”

The host of the program, Öztürk, had the audience applaud her by saying: “We are trying our best to make it heard. Your words have been a lesson for us. We will continue to do more. Hopefully your wishes for peace will be realized as soon as possible.”

Following the show, the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Çelik for “praising terrorism and a terrorist organization,” and the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated a separate investigation into Öztürk and Çelik on similar charges.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling party have been center of criticism over a purge and witch-hunt targeting his opposition following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

More than 17,000 women, the majority of whom wear a headscarf, have been jailed along with 668 infants in an unprecedented crackdown and subjected to torture and ill-treatment in detention centers and prisons as part of the government’s systematic campaign of intimidation and persecution of critics and opponents, a report titled “Jailing Women In Turkey: Systematic Campaign of Persecution and Fear” released in April by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) revealed. (Turkey Purge with Turkish Minute)

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