A 10-day-old baby was sent to prison along with her two-year-old sister and their mother, Eylem Oyunlu, when the mother was arrested on terrorism charges, news website Bianet reported on Friday.
Oyunlu’s partner and the children’s father, İsmail Özden, told Bianet that he had filed a complaint against the prosecutor and judge involved in the new mother’s case.
“My baby doesn’t have a name yet,” Özden said.
“The judge went into the prosecutor’s room, and after he left, my partner was arrested,” said the father. The couple and their children had been waiting at the court house after Oyunlu had given her testimony in relation to charges of aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation.
The judge also met with several soldiers before the arrest ruling was issued, Özden said. “Why would a prosecutor speak with a judge in his room before demanding an arrest?”
Özden said he was also concerned over the COVID-19 situation in the Diyarbakır Prison, where Oyunlu and their children had been sent to. According to the father, the newborn had an eye infection, and he was not allowed to take her to the hospital for treatment.
Oyunlu has stopped lactating due to the stress, and is having a hard time handling a newborn and an infant, Özden said. “She told me that the two-year old was banging on the door and crying,” he said. The three have been placed in a separate room due to quarantine measures in prisons.
“A woman who just gave birth, during a pandemic – how necessary was her arrest?” asked lawyer Emin Çoban, chairman at the bar association’s children’s rights centre in the southern Diyarbakır province.
Çoban did not know the answer, as there was a confidentiality order on Oyunlu’s case file.
According to Çoban, there are more than 700 children in Turkey’s prisons, serving time alongside their mothers. The lawyer said Turkish law allows for a postponed sentence for mothers with infant children, and the women should be released on parole, especially during pre-trial detention.
“A 10-day-old baby and a two-year-old infant are in no position to harm the state,” Çoban told Bianet. “The arrest order is thoughtless.”
“These are ruthless practices,” pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said in a press briefing in parliament. “We passed a law that pregnant women and women with babies younger than 18 months could not be arrested in pre-trial detention. But courts do not heed this law.”
Gergerlioğlu mentioned a seven-month pregnant woman who was in a prison in Ankara and risked a miscarriage due to prison conditions.
“If something happens to these women, the judges who break the law are responsible,” Gergerlioğlu said.