Woman applies to Turkey's top court to avoid entering jail with baby

Woman applies to Turkey's top court to avoid entering jail with baby

Woman applies to Turkeys top court to avoid entering jail with baby

Arzu Ceylan Oral, 28, has demanded the review of her sentence to avoid entering jail with her five-months-old baby, Seynep Simay.

A woman has applied to the Turkish Constitutional Court for the postponement of her six-year prison sentence, on charges of “membership to an armed organization,” to avoid entering jail with her five-months-old baby.

Arzu Ceylan Oral, 28, was convicted in 2008 with 17 other suspects by a high criminal court in the southern province of Adana for her alleged affiliation to the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), an outlawed leftist group. As the legal process continued, Oral got married and recently gave birth to her second child, Zeynep Simay.

According to a very controversial law, convicted mothers are imprisoned with their children up to the age of six if no suitable relative can provide for their care. Calls had mounted to introduce an option in the law that would allow mothers to be released on probation.

But Oral demands the postponement of the sentence, at least until the Constitutional Court rules on her application. “They can give me an electronic bracelet, or even house arrest. But I don’t want to be imprisoned with my baby,” she said.

Oral also claimed that with the recent judicial amendments, she would be acquitted due to the lack of evidence in the case of a retrial. The case’s prosecutors had used the attendance of the suspects in legal demonstrations, such as May Day or Nevruz festivities, as evidence to press the charges of membership to an armed organization, although they had not participated in any violent action.

“The trial started in 2006 and finished in 2014. What didn’t happen in those eight years? If it was opened recently, I’m sure I would have been acquitted. I am being accused of being member of an armed organization. If I am so dangerous, why have they kept me out of prison for eight years?” she asked.

The sentence handed to a mother of twin babies, who was preparing to go to prison last May, had raised the debate on the situation of convicted mothers in Turkey.

According to experts, most jails lack the necessary equipment to accommodate children in line with the law, as well as specialized psychologists to support them. They point out that many children want to be with their mother if they are separated and are urging special legislation to be introduced.