Jailed mother says baby contracted dysentery in prison, yet denied medication

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Arzu Akçakaya, one of the more than 11,000 women who have been jailed as part of a government crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement, has said her 15-month-old daughter, who is accompanying her in prison, contracted dysentery in jail but was denied the medication prescribed by a doctor, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Akçakaya, who has been jailed with her daughter for six months, wrote in a letter to her husband that their daughter Damla was diagnosed with dysentery, contracted due to poor hygiene in the prison, and had to be taken to the emergency room three times within several days but was not given the medication prescribed by the doctor. 

She wrote that she had told the prison administration to give her ailing daughter to her father so she could receive better treatment but that her request was turned down because she made it outside working hours for prison personnel.

In her letter Akçakaya said her daughter had to remain in the hospital for four days because of a high fever and a worsening condition but that the medication prescribed by the doctor was not dispensed again when she was discharged. She said the medication was provided only six days after he had called the prison administration.

Akçakaya was arrested in August 2019 and sent to a prison in the southeastern province of Gaziantep with her daughter on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

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.

One of the accusations faced by Akçakaya is that her fingerprints were found on books thrown into a garbage container in the eastern province of Bitlis.

The Turkish government banned books written by Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Islamic cleric whose views inspired the movement, as well as those published by Gülen-linked publication houses. Since owning these books is considered evidence of terrorist organization membership, many people had to burn them or throw them in garbage containers fearing arrest.

Akçakaya will appear in court for the second hearing of her trial in February.

More than 800 children are accompanying their mothers in Turkey’s prisons.

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