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Mother of 8-year-old cancer patient prevented from traveling abroad despite court order

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Turkish human rights activists raised alarms on social media on Monday after Zekiye Ataç, the mother of an 8-year-old cancer patient who expects to restart treatment in Germany, was not allowed to board the plane by airport officials.

The development was announced by Natali Avazyan, an Armenian-Turkish rights activist who recently raised funding for the treatment of Ahmet Burhan Ataç.

After stating that a new travel ban had been imposed on the mother, Avazyan clarified the situation, tweeting: “It is a crime. Ahmet’s mother was misinformed. She is not allowed to leave the country due to a caveat [placed on the system] by an administrative court during the [2016-2018] state of emergency [declared after a failed coup in Turkey].”

The mother released a video statement titled “You are collectively killing my son.”

Member of parliament and rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu denounced the travel ban as “systematic torture.”

Zekiye Ataç was previously not able to travel abroad due to an ongoing investigation over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Suffering from bone cancer, her 8-year-old son briefly visited Germany without his mother in January, only to return to Turkey a few days later since he missed her.

The mother’s ban was first revoked by a prosecutor’s office in February after an intense social media campaign. The next day, it was overturned by another court. The ban was finally lifted on Feb  21.

The Turkish government accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, although the movement denies any involvement in it. Tens of thousands of people with real or perceived links to the group have been subjected to travel bans, based on ongoing trials or administrative investigations alone.

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