Ahmet Burhan Ataç, an 8-year-old cancer patient, succumbed to his illness on Thursday after a travel ban on his mother prevented him from receiving treatment in Germany for a month.
Ahmet was diagnosed with bone cancer in September 2018 while his father was in pre-trial detention for alleged membership in the Gülen movement.
After the failure of treatments at a local university hospital in Adana, his mother came to public attention with her requests on social media for the release of the father, Harun Reha Ataç, so that the boy would be able to fight the cancer with his father by his side.
As his illness progressed, doctors recommended an immuno-oncology center in Germany. When contacted about Ahmet, the clinic said he could be treated if he was immediately brought to Germany.
Ahmet traveled to Germany alone in January 2020. However, he could not be accompanied by his mother, Zekiye Ataç, on whom a travel ban had been imposed due to her own prosecution over alleged Gülen links.
Adana prosecutors declined to lift the mother’s travel ban despite repeated applications, while a businessman who hosted the 8-year-old in Germany revealed that his morale was low and he was unable to eat. Ahmet subsequently returned home.
Zekiye Ataç had struggled for a month to get a passport to accompany her son for cancer treatment in Germany.
On March 3 she was finally allowed to travel to Germany with her son following a social media campaign supported by rights activists and celebrities in Turkey.
However, the cancer had spread throughout Ahmet’s body, his mother said, resulting in their recent return to Turkey.
Turkey has been conducting a relentless crackdown targeting Gülen movement followers after accusing the movement of orchestrating a failed coup in July 2016, despite the movement’s denial of any involvement.”