Woman dies of cancer without being able to see husband imprisoned on Gülen links

A woman whose husband was imprisoned on charges of alleged links to the Gülen movement died of cancer on Monday without seeing her husband one last time, news website Tr724 reported.

Leyla Kurt suffered from breast cancer and was admitted to intensive care last week after her health deteriorated. Her husband, Yusuf Kurt, has been in prison for five years and despite being eligible for parole, he was not released in time to see his wife.

Yusuf Kurt was arrested on August 16, 2016 and sentenced to seven years and nine months in prison. He was accused of having worked at a private tutoring center affiliated with the movement.

The government of the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched a war against the Gülen movement, a global citizens’ initiative inspired by the ideas of the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, following the corruption investigation of December 17-25, 2013 in which the then Prime Minister and Current Relatives and Inner Circle of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The AKP government dismissed the investigation as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy, labeled the movement a terrorist organization and began targeting its members. The government stepped up the crackdown after an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, accusing Gulen of leaving the brain behind. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the failed putsch or any terrorist activity.

Under the Turkish Penal Code, people convicted of membership of a terrorist organization are eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence.

Leyla Kurt was diagnosed with cancer five months after her husband’s arrest. Although she underwent surgery and treatment, she was unable to recover.

In an earlier interview, Leyla Kurt had said she was concerned about her three children trying to cope with their mother’s illness and their father’s incarceration. “My son dropped out of school because we couldn’t afford the tuition, and my youngest daughter is on antidepressants to cope,” she said. “My kids have had mental health issues, but we’re trying to stay strong.”

After the failed coup, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions on the pretext of fighting the coup. A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Nov. 22.

The post-coup purge in Turkey has taken a huge toll on human life, and many of those imprisoned have not been able to see their loved ones for the last time. Kübra Kuzan, a five-year-old girl, died of cancer in February while her father was in prison for ties to the movement.

Selman Çalışkan, 7, died of cancer last September without being able to see his father, a former teacher who was imprisoned in 2017.

Ahmet Burhan Ataç, 8, was another child who died of cancer without being able to see his imprisoned father.

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