Two children accompanied their mother to prison when Sevim Yıldırım was arrested on Saturday to serve a sentence for conviction of links to the Gülen movement, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.
Yıldırım’s arrest was announced on Twitter by Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who held Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ responsible for the continued arrest of mothers with young children. “Another mother is sent to prison, and this time her two children, 11 and 28 months old, will accompany her,” he said.
Despite the stipulations of the law, as of October 2021 there were a total of 345 children under the age of 6 accompanying their mothers in Turkish prisons. The children were kept in unsuitable conditions as they were not well fed and did not receive sufficient medical care.
Yıldırım was a public servant working as a Qur’an teacher until she was summarily dismissed by an emergency decree after a coup attempt in July 2016. The length of her sentence was not revealed; however, Yıldırım was taken to Ferizli Prison in northwestern Sakarya province.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched a war against the Gülen movement, a worldwide civic initiative inspired by the ideas of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, after the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013 that implicated then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family members and inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy, the AKP government designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. They intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that they accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
The Turkish government accepted 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 as benchmarks for identifying and arresting tens of thousands alleged members of the movement on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
According to a statement by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, as of November 15, 2021 a total of 319,587 people had been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt.