Pregnant woman unlawfully arrested in Antalya for aiding families of post-coup victims

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A pregnant woman was unlawfully arrested on September 30 in Turkey’s southern Antalya province for helping the families of individuals targeted by a post-coup crackdown in Turkey, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing Bold Medya.

The woman, whose name was not disclosed, is two months pregnant and has two more children ages four and six. The Law on the Execution of Sentences and Security Measures stipulates that even if a pregnant woman is convicted, her sentence must be postponed. The law also states that “execution of the prison sentence is delayed for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last year and a half.”  The law also applies to inmates kept in pre-trial detention.

Yet, according to a report by Solidarity with OTHERS, a nongovernmental organization comprising mainly political exiles from Turkey, a total of 219 pregnant women and women with children under 6 years of age have been arbitrarily detained or arrested over their suspected links to the Gülen movement.

The woman was among 23 others who were arrested after being detained on September 17, when police raided multiple locations in seven cities. The suspects were accused of providing food and financial assistance to the families of people who were arrested in the post-coup crackdown or removed from their state jobs and hence deprived of the means to make a living.

Turkish authorities have over the past week ordered the detention of 104 people for helping those families.

In Antalya, several women were charged with attending the funeral of Adem Sazlık, who recently died after being imprisoned for 18 months for links to the movement. Sazlık’s wife, Nurgül Sazlık, was also among those who were arrested.

Firdevs Taşkın, a 46-year old mother of four who suffers from heart disease, was also arrested. Taşkın was first detained in 2016 with her husband Ahmet Taşkın. She was later released but was handed a six year, three month prison sentence. Taşkın’s case is pending with the Supreme Court of Appeals. Her husband, a former teacher, is still in prison.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based 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.

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

Turkish authorities have arrested thousands of people regardless of whether they may be critically and chronically sick, pregnant or have infants.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in February 2021, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the movement.

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