Turkish Twitter users call for release of pregnant woman kept in prison despite regulations

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Turkish Twitter users launched a hashtag campaign on Sunday calling on authorities to release Huriye Acun, an eight-and-a-half-month pregnant woman who has been kept in prison for alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

The hashtag #HuriyeAcunHapisteDoğurmasın (Huriye Acun shouldn’t give birth in prison) was shared widely by Turkish social media users appealing to the Turkish government to release Acun.

Turkish actress Demet Evgar also supported the hashtag campaign.

Acun, a former teacher, was arrested in Konya on July 7 and jailed. She was convicted on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to nine years, four months in prison. Her case is pending appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeals.

According to her husband, Uğur, she is experiencing complications related to her pregnancy in prison. Turkish prisons are notorious for their poor conditions and overcrowding.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

According to the Law on the Execution of Sentences and Security Measures, even if a pregnant woman is convicted, her sentence must be postponed. The law stipulates that “execution of the prison sentence is delayed for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last year and a half.”

Yet the Turkish authorities have been detaining and arresting pregnant women and women with newborns. The issue was taken to the Board of Judges and Prosecutors [HSK] by human rights defender and former MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.

According to a report by Solidarity with OTHERS, a nongovernmental organization that mainly consists of political exiles from Turkey, a total of 219 pregnant women and women with children under six years of age were arbitrarily detained or arrested over their suspected links to the Gülen movement.

Such daily activities as having an account at or depositing money in a Gülen movement-affiliated bank, working at any institution linked to the movement, or subscribing to certain newspapers and magazines were accepted as benchmarks for identifying and arresting alleged members of the movement.

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