Jailing of terminally ailing Gulen disciple stirs hearts throughout Turkey’s ideological divide 

A widely known saying of the Prophet Mohammed intones, “Allah has no mercy for him who has no mercy for his fellows.” It seems to be misplaced on Turkey’s Islamist Justice and Development Party authorities. The case of Ayse Ozdogan, an end-stage most cancers affected person, who’s serving a nine-year sentence over her hyperlinks to an anti-government spiritual sect, is among the many starkest examples. Turkey’s Human Rights Association reckons there are over 1,600 critically ailing inmates in Turkey’s notoriously brutal and overpopulated jail system. About 600 are stated to be in vital situation. The authorities received’t free them.

Ozdogan is affected by a uncommon type of most cancers known as maxillary sinus. A portion of her face was eliminated in a fancy operation on Jan. 2, 2020. A gradual trickle of blood oozes from her nostril and palate. She can barely communicate, in keeping with Ozdogan’s lawyer, Tarik Avsar. “Now Ayse Ozdogan is stuck in a cell even an animal wouldn’t live in, over nonsense charges,” Avsar instructed Al-Monitor.

“My sister wants to die in dignity. Her health is going from bad to worse. She must be freed,” Ozdogan’s elder sister, Emine Erdem, instructed Al-Monitor. A authorities run hospital in Antalya drew the identical conclusion in a July 9 report seen by Al-Monitor. A panel of seven medical doctors unanimously agreed that the affected person’s life was underneath menace and that her sentence ought to subsequently be commuted to permit for therapy. But their verdict was overturned by the state-run Istanbul forensics institute, which opined that Ozdogan’s therapy may proceed in jail.  Her appeals for mercy, aired through a heart-wrenching video, fell upon deaf ears. On Oct. 2 Ozdogan was carted off to the Antalya “T type” jail the place her husband Ilker, is serving out his sentence on fees of membership of the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization.”

The couple have an eight-year-old son who noticed his dad and mom arrested a number of occasions. “We told him they took her for medical treatment,” stated Erdem. “He knows something’s not right. He told his mother before she was arrested again, ‘l wish to die as well so we can all be together in heaven.’ He can no longer bring himself to say ‘mother’ or to ask when she is coming back. Each time the word mother comes to his lips he starts to cry.”

Ozdogan and her husband have been each followers of Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based cleric who’s accused of staging the failed try in July 2016 to bloodily overthrow Erdogan. She supervised a women’ dormitory operated by the Gulenists. He was a bureaucrat within the nationwide schooling ministry. Both have been fired after the botched putsch and ultimately prosecuted, just like the tens of 1000’s of fellow Gulenists who’re behind bars.

Rights teams have documented systematic torture of Gulenist detainees, together with at purpose-built black websites. But there may be little public sympathy for them. Gulen was once an in depth ally of Erdogan till they fell out over who ought to have extra energy — and spoils.

Gulen used the alliance to wage a vendetta in opposition to their widespread enemies within the military, by way of a sequence of trials that have been presided over by his disciples within the judiciary. Hundreds of officers have been convicted on sham proof. “Even today, the Gulenists are resorting to deception, and the bigwigs in the organization who fled to safety abroad have yet to show any contrition for what they did, causing further harm to the foot soldiers who got left behind in Turkey,” stated Ayse Cavdar, a Turkish anthropologist who carefully follows spiritual actions in her native nation.

However, Ozdogan’s tragedy has stirred hearts throughout the ideological spectrum.  A lawmaker from the stridently pro-secular primary opposition Republican People’s Party, Gulizar Bicer Karaca, sought to go to her in jail however was denied entry by jail directors citing COVID-19 dangers. Basak Demirtas, the spouse of the imprisoned Kurdish chief, Selahattin Demirtas, aired help for Ozdogan through Twitter whereas the left-leaning satirical weekly Leman, put her on its cowl web page.

“You have a chronic problem of very, very sick people for whom the prognosis is very poor. They can’t look after themselves in prison. There are humanitarian grounds for postponing the execution of their sentences,” stated Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey director for Human Rights Watch.

Sinclair-Webb recalled the plight of Mehmet Emin Ozkan, an 83-year-old Kurd, who was sentenced to life on fees of murdering a Turkish common in a case that was marred by flawed if not outright fabricated proof. He’s spent the previous 26 years in jail for a criminal offense that was dedicated by Turkey’s shadowy counter-insurgency forces, in keeping with a pair of secret witnesses who gave proof in a separate trial. Ozkan’s calls for for a retrial have been granted. But he was not let loose.

Ozkan has had 5 coronary heart assaults over the course of his incarceration and suffers from quite a few well being situations. He is unable to eat, drink or gown himself unaided. Images of Ozkan mendacity handcuffed to a hospital mattress earlier this 12 months precipitated uproar. Turkey’s Justice minister, Abdulhamit Gul, has ignored repeated requires Ozkan’s launch. “It’s obvious he is not going to abscond or flee. This is an area where the authorities are at their most vindictive,” Sinclair-Webb noticed.

Avsar, Ozdogan’s lawyer, will attraction her sentence on the constitutional courtroom on the grounds that her proper to life has been violated. Should the courtroom rule in opposition to Ozdogan, in a replay of different high-profile political circumstances, Avsar says he’ll take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Strasbourg-based physique dominated in 2013 that Turkey had violated Article three of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting inhuman and degrading therapy of people for remanding Gulay Cetin, an auditor identified with metastatic gastric most cancers in custody. Cetin, who was accused of murdering her accomplice, died within the jail ward at Antalya hospital in 2011.

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a distinguished human rights defender and lawmaker for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, who has taken up Ozdogan’s trigger famous that sick prisoners are launched solely once they have “reached the purpose of no return.”


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