Jailed university student faces risk of becoming disabled due to deprivation of urgent treatment

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Photo by Uriel Soberanes (Unsplash)

Esra Çepik, a 25-year-old university student who has been behind bars for more than a year due to her alleged links to the Gülen movement, could end up becoming disabled in prison because she has been unable to obtain treatment for a herniated disc, according to family members, Bold Medya reported.

Çepik’s sister, Fikriye Canlıer, said the prison administration is preventing her sister from getting treatment for her condition, adding, “My sister is about to become disabled.”

Çepik, who studies theology at Eskişehir Anadolu University, was detained on July 27, 2017 due to her links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the failed coup.

The student was released on judicial probation eight days later. However, a high criminal court in the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa ruled for Çepik’s arrest on July 3, 2018 and then handed down a prison sentence of six years, three months in October 2018 on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

Çepik, who wrote many petitions to the administration of Hilvan Prison in Şanlıurfa about her condition, was only able to go to a hospital three months ago. Doctors said she should undergo an MRI, but the prison administration refused to allow it. Çepik developed the condition two years ago, but it reportedly deteriorated in prison.

Çepik’s other sister, Zeynep Çepik, said Esra’s arrest wreaked havoc on the family as her father had a heart attack while her mother diabetes worsened.

The sister said they submitted medical reports showing the severity of Esra’s condition to the court, but judges refused to take them into consideration. Zeynep Çepik said Esra is able to meet her daily needs thanks to the help of her cellmates but has difficulty even in walking and standing up. 

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen 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.

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