A mother of two announced yesterday from an anonymous Twitter account that she was going to be sent to Ankara’s Sincan Prison with her two young children, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported on Tuesday, citing the Bold Medya news website.
The woman said she had been sentenced to six years, 10 months in prison for alleged links to the Gülen movement and that her two children, aged 3 and 18 months, would accompany her.
“I will be imprisoned with my two children despite not having done anything wrong,” she said. “I am not a terrorist, just a mother who’s trying to raise her children.”
Speaking to Bold Medya without disclosing her name, the woman said she was accused of using the ByLock smart phone application.
Turkey considers ByLock, once widely available online, a secret tool of communication among supporters of the faith-based Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch, leading to the arrest of thousands who were using it.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group 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 locked up thousands including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on them.
Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following the coup attempt that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
The number of children accompanying their mothers in prison skyrocketed in Turkey in the aftermath of the coup attempt.
According to a recent report 345 children under the age of 6 are staying in Turkish prisons with their mothers. The report said children are traumatized by strip-searches. They are not well fed and don’t receive sufficient medical care. They also have difficulty getting time to play.