Paralyzed ex-teacher arrested to serve out sentence for being found guilty of links to Gülen

A former teacher who has been paralyzed for 19 months has been sent to prison after a high appeals court upheld a conviction handed down to her for her affiliation with the faith-based Gülen movement, the news site reported. Bold Medya.

Serife Sulukan, 45, is almost totally disabled and unable to take care of herself. She cannot walk unassisted or use the bathroom on her own. Doctors warned Sulukan that she could suffer another stroke in the near future.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said on Twitter that Sulukan’s arrest was outrageous and called on the authorities to release her immediately.

Sulukan was sentenced to six years and three months and sent to a prison in the western province of Edirne. She was accused of having sent her children to a private school affiliated with the movement.

In an earlier interview with Bold Medya, Sulukan said her children attended private schools on state scholarships. “So if these schools were illegal, why did the state pay for my children’s school fees? ” she says.

Sulukan was also accused of using the ByLock smartphone app; however, the phone was registered in her husband’s name.

Turkey views ByLock, once widely available online, as a secret communication tool among Gülen supporters since a July 15, 2016 coup attempt despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were linked to the coup aborted, leading to the arrest of thousands who used it.

The Gülen movement is accused by the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of orchestrating the failed coup and is labeled a “terrorist organization”, although the movement denies any involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Sulukan’s husband was arrested in December 2017 on similar charges and is currently being held in a prison in the southeastern province of Urfa.

Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing seriously ill prisoners so they can receive proper treatment.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Züleyha Gülüm, an HDP MP, said Turkish prisons were turning into scenes of slaughter and political prisoners were the most disadvantaged.

According to the Human Rights Association (İHD), as of June 2020, there were more than 1,605 sick inmates in Turkish prisons, of which around 600 were seriously ill. Although most of the critically ill patients had forensic and medical reports deeming them unfit to remain in prison, they were not released. The authorities refuse to release them on the grounds that they represent a potential danger to society. In the first eight months of 2020, five seriously ill prisoners died because they were not released in time to receive proper medical treatment.

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