Teacher accused of ‘praising terrorism’ to start prison term with baby on Friday
Ayşe Çelik, a Turkish teacher sentenced to one year and three months in prison for allegedly “praising terrorism and a terrorist organization” in 2016, is due to begin her prison term on Friday with her six-month-old in tow.
Unless the Turkish Constitutional Court addresses Çelik’s formal appeal by Friday, Çelik will join the hundreds of women serving prison sentences with their babies, left-wing news site Artı Gerçek reports.
Çelik was sentenced to one year, three months in April 2017; however, her sentence was postponed to April 20, 2018 on grounds that she was pregnant.
Çelik, who gave birth to a baby girl shortly thereafter, applied to the Constitutional Court, asking for the ruling to be overturned.
Çelik’s lawyer Mahsuni Karaman said the Constitutional Court has yet to address their appeal and should they fail to do so by Friday, Çelik will be forced to begin serving her jail sentence along with her daughter.
Çelik had said the following on a television program:
“Are you aware of what’s going on in the country’s east? What’s happening here is misrepresented on television. Don’t stay silent! Please show more sensitivity as human beings! See us, hear us and give us a hand! I’d like to address the teachers who have abandoned their students. How are they going to return there? How are they going to look those innocent children in the eye? What a pity! Don’t let people die. Don’t let children die. Don’t let mothers cry.”
The the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Çelik after the show for “praising terrorism and a terrorist organization,” and the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated a separate investigation into Öztürk and Çelik on similar charges.
According to the Turkish Justice Ministry, there are 669 children in Turkish jails, 64 percent of them under the age of three.