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Human Rights

Plight of children with imprisoned parents

Hundreds of mothers and fathers, were arrested due to alleged relations with Hizmet Movement in Erdogan’s Turkey. The children with both parents imprisoned are part of a great tragedy that takes place in the country.

There are more than 500 thousand ongoing investigations against alleged Hizmet movement members. The movement comprises the largest organized opposition against Erdogan’s rule in Turkey. Children are the greatest victims of investigations targeting these well-educated citizens.

The Öner family is among those many victims. Meryem and Osman Öner were arrested on March 6, 2017. Their three children have to stay with different relatives. The mother and her 2 children have medical conditions.

Especially the eldest child of the family, İbrahim Said Öner, is trying to make his voice heard on Twitter for his mother’s immediate release.

Said Öner said that his mother had been receiving psychological treatment for 8 years and had been using strong pharmaceuticals. He also mentioned that “Her condition in the prison is deteriorating. When she got worse, the doctors wrote a report that she ‘cannot remain alone’. However, she is kept alone. Moreover, she is alone in the 28-person ward. In Kilis city prison, there is no one under arrest over Hizmet Movement related investigations, so she is kept alone.”

Said Öner said that not only his sister who is a student of 11th grade has to use strong medications due to her mental state, but also he is having fits. He mentioned that his mother should be immediately released pending a trial both for her well-being and for her children.

Said Öner tells the story of what his siblings undergo and what happened afterward:

“It became obvious that my parents were in prison due to probes into the Hizmet Movement. It’s a small town where my siblings live. They encountered too much neighborhood pressure. My brother was forced to drop out of school because of bullying. He was admitted to a correspondence school.”

Family scattered

Said Öner posted on Twitter about the turmoil in his family’s life revealing that his two siblings stay at his aunts in the southern Hatay city while he remained in Istanbul at another aunt of him. Hatay is 1.115 kilometers away from Istanbul.

“My mother desired to be transferred to the prison in the city where my siblings have been living for almost a year, so did my father. Each time, their petition was rejected,” Öner says and carries on with stating, “My father was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment on the same charges over which Hizmet Movement members are incriminated, such as sending your child to a Hizmet affiliated school. They’re completely innocent. These incidents affected me and I studied harder and successfully enrolled in law school.”

“One of my siblings is in 11th grade, the other one is a 3rd-grade. We have no income. My aunts support us.”

“We want, at least, my mother to be released as soon as possible, both for her and my two siblings’ health conditions.”

Resorting to higher courts

Not getting any results from the local court, Said Oner said “My dad’s always worried about my mom being alone. He is afraid as my mother is not psychologically well. My parents are ruined mentally speaking. We consider applying to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.”

The Purge

The Hizmet Movement, which currently has 17,000 members in detention, describes this course of time as “Tenkil” – “Purge.” “Tenkil” is an Arabic-rooted Turkish word, a noun that signifies eradicating or total cleansing. In the last three years, 117,000 people have been arrested for various periods over their alleged membership in the Hizmet Movement. Almost all of these people are university graduates and the majority are teachers.

Human Rights

Understanding shifts in Turkey through Yamanlar College

Erdoğan Regime shut down nearly 1400 foundations, associations, and schools belonging to the Gülen Movement. Yamanlar College was one of the most emblematic ones. The college was the first college founded in the years when the movement was founded.

Starting to serve in the education field in 1982, the school preferred the modern education system. Cleric Mr. Gülen said to his followers that education is the fundamental problem of Turkey, and instead of building mosques or religious vocational high schools, they shall open modern schools.

Yamanlar College, the first school, established within this scope, became Turkey’s one of the most successful private schools. Afterward, the Gülen Movement founded 21 universities and nearly 1400 private schools in Turkey.

Erdogan accused the Gulen Movement in 2013 after the corruption operation targeted Erdogan’s four ministers and his son Bilal. These operations, known as the 17/25 December Corruption Operation, were closed with the dismissal of police and prosecutors.

Erdogan immediately sent the officers to the foundation schools belonged to the Gülen Movement to impose a fine, some of the schools were cut off the water, and some of the schools’ gardens were destroyed by constructing new roads.

The repression continued, and Erdogan started to confiscate the school administration. The complete confiscation of schools and the cessation of education took place after the controversial coup attempt on 15 July 2016.

Seizing all the power in his hands after the coup attempt in Turkey, Erdogan declared the State of Emergency and started the presidential system. Meantime, all the foundation schools owned by the Gülen Movement were closed down.

The Erdogan regime has transformed most of these schools into religious vocational high schools (Imam Hatip in Turkish), where teachers mostly teach Salafi beliefs. The Gülen Movement’s first school Yamanlar College was one of them.

An event held during the first days of 2020 has launched a new debate in Turkey over Yamanlar College’s transformation.

The Sıla Foundation organized a conference on Shariah in the premises of Yamanlar used in the past as a sports hall and theater. İhsan Şenocak, one of the speakers at the Sıla Foundation’s meeting, wanted a declaration war against Israel and called the government officials, “You walk towards Tel Aviv, we’ll come after you.” These words received great support from the hall.

One of the significant issues discussed in the meeting was covering the picture of the Republic of Turkey’s founder Kemal Ataturk in the hall.

People wearing turban and robes in the hall and the speeches made were on the axis of the change after the school, which had modern education in the past, was taken away from the Gülen Movement.

The education system in Turkey experienced significant changes in recent years. The Erdogan regime opened thousands of new religious vocational high schools, or the existing schools were turned into religious vocational high schools. Families complain about this, but the number of schools that provide modern education is decreasing day by day.

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Human Rights

Pregnant behind bars with a two-year-old kid

Elif Aydın, 31, is one of the educators arrested in Turkey over the past three years. She was two-months pregnant when she was sent to prison in the western province of Gebze on May 25, 2018. She also had two kids, 6 and 3 years old at that time.

She couldn’t leave behind her younger child, Musab; thus, she brought him along to prison. They did not provide a separate bed for her son in the eight-person ward. The pregnant woman stayed by sharing the same bed with his son in prison for months.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) ‘s deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a prominent human rights activist, has been fighting for her release from prison.

Turkish law forbids the arrest of pregnant women; however, this ban has not been applied for suspects from the Gulen movement and of Kurdish origin.

Gergerlioğlu filed a complaint on July 1, 2018, with the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) against the judge and prosecutor who gave the arrest decision for Elif Aydın. A response from HSYK to his complaint came 1.5 years later. They have not investigated it so far.

“By this decision, HSYK has become an accomplice to this crime,” Gergerlioğlu said.

Elif Aydın, on the other hand, is trying to be the voice of other arrested pregnant women by revealing what she had been through.

 

Aydın: “I fell downstairs twice”

“I was the director of a private student residence. That was the only accusation leveled against me. My husband had stayed in prison for a year over links to the Gulen movement. They arrested me nine months after he was released from jail. I left my older child behind and took Musab in prison with me. And I was pregnant with my third child. We all three were trying to sleep in the same bed.

“I fell downstairs twice and was taken to the hospital. My kid, Musab, also fell downstairs several times, and his face and eyes got hurt. The ward was an eight-person ward, but there were times also where nine people had been staying in our ward. The prison is tough for a woman with a child. It was summer, fortunately, when I was jailed, so we could spend most of our time in the yard. When it became colder, we had to stay inside.”

“There was no hygiene in prison. Musab’s eyes caught an infection. He hit his head on the bunk beds many times. He fell off the bunk bed, and he hurt his head and mouth. I was pregnant and was seeing all these (Musab had been through) so, I grew depressed.

“Many pregnant women were arrested like me. And, this is still going on. There are no special arrangements or facilities in place for pregnant women and children in prison. Life is quite hard in prison.”

 

Thousands of educators arrested

Erdogan’s regime mainly targeted well-educated people. About 1,400 Gulen-affiliated schools, kindergartens, student residences, and universities were shut down. Thirty thousand teachers were dismissed, and their licenses were revoked. Thousands of teachers were arrested.

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Human Rights

Slaying of cadets remains mystery years after coup bid

SEVİNÇ ÖZARSLAN

BOLD- Murat Tekin and Ragıp Enes Katran were Turkish cadets. On July 15, 2016, they were attacked and killed on the Bosphorus bridge.

Was it the angry mob who killed the two military students or the obscure organization called SADAT of Erdoğan?

On July 15, 2016, Turkey experienced a coup attempt. There are various allegations about that night, which are still unexplained. One of those events was the murder of two cadets at the Bosphorus Bridge.

One of those students was Ragıp Enes Katran, a 20-year-old student of the Air Force Academy. According to an autopsy report, he succumbed to stab wounds on his body. The footages made by cell phones on that night shows Katran covered in blood.

His elder brother, Fevzi Katran, who was a soldier like him, now lives in Germany as a refugee. He was expelled from the military shortly after his brother was killed. Subsequently, an arrest warrant was issued. He was forced to flee Turkey.

On that night, Turkey allegedly used militant groups in Istanbul and Ankara, who were also on the ground in Syria.

The group in question is a mercenary company called SADAT, led by a retired general of the Turkish Armed Forces, Adnan Tanrıverdi. He is known for his extreme Islamist ideas.

Tanriverdi, who did not hesitate to say that they used SADAT in Syria, stated that they were on the streets on the night of the coup bid. However, he denies the murder allegations.

Fevzi Katran does not believe that the people who stabbed his brother were the angry mob.

“There were bruises, holes, and cuts on his body. I mean, this is murder. They murdered my brother, Murat and the other soldiers. There was a group of people there. I can’t call them regular people. I think our people wouldn’t do that.”

NO BALLISTIC REPORTS

According to the Erdogan regime, more than 250 civilians were killed on the night of July 15. The soldiers on trial importunately demand the ballistic reports of the weapons used in the hearings. However, authorities reject these demands.

Trying to recover in Germany

TRYING RECOVER IN GERMANY

Fevzi Katran, who tries to recover in Germany, stated that very few soldiers participated in the putsch bid on July 15, and cadets were taken to the bridges to increase the number:

“They put the cadets into the cars and said they were going to the Air Force Academy because there had been a terrorist attack. The students did not know anything. No cell phones, no access to anything. They set off thinking they were going to the Air Force Academy. They had shut down all military schools by getting the students involved in the coup. This could be a reason. There were not enough people involved in the coup attempt that night. They increased the number of people with cadets. Those who planned this took out all the students from there to shut the schools down. And they took new ones instead.”

Ragıp Enes Katran with her brother in Istanbul.

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