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.

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