A 3-year-old boy burst into tears when he was refused entry to a prison where he has been accompanying his mother since February 2017, according to Turkish media reports.
The toddler, Miraz Akbaba, broke down in front of Gebze Prison in İstanbul where his mother, Gülistan Diken Akbaba, is incarcerated, when prison authorities refused to let him in as Tuesday was an official holiday in Turkey. Miraz was removed the prison by his father over the weekend to spend some time outside. His father brought him back on Tuesday to return him to his mother. A video showing the toddler wailing in front of the prison and saying, “Let’s go to mom,” was shared by users on Twitter, with many expressing outrage over what had happened to Miraz.
Miraz went to jail along with his mother when he was seven months old, in February 2017, when a jail sentence of six years, three months handed down to his mother on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, namely the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was upheld by Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals.
In the meantime, the Arti Gerçek news website reported late on Tuesday that the prison administration reversed course and decided to let Miraz back in due to the outrage on the social media caused by Miraz’s video. Arti Gerçek said officials from the prison called Miraz’s father telling him to bring the boy back and that he would be allowed to stay with his mother.
Miraz is one of the more than 800 children who accompany their mothers in prison. Many women have been jailed on terrorism charges with their young children immediately after delivery or while pregnant.
In the aftermath of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, more than 17,000 women from all walks of life including teachers, doctors and housewives have been jailed in Turkey on coup charges in government-led operations due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the 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.