Women Empowerment and Democracy: How Authoritarian Rules are Hindering Women Empowerment Prospects

On 16th March 2018, the Set Them Free, Pacifica Institute (California), and Silicon Valley UNA-USA, organized a parallel event during the 62th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women entitled “Women Empowerment and Democracy: How Authoritarian Rules are Hindering Women Empowerment Prospects”. The event had participation of more than 60 people from civil society organization and women rights activists.

The discussion was moderated by W. Alexander Morel, an Associate Professor of Art & Design at the St John`s University. The distinguished panelists discussing this critical topic were Hatixhe Berani Grbeshi, a Lawyer, Disability and SSI Representative from the Santa Clara Law Group, Dr. Zuleyha Colak, Lecturer and Coordinator of Turkish Language Program at Columbia University, and Dr. Sophia Pandya, Professor of Religious Studies at the California State University Long Beach. The panelists shared their experiences, anecdotes, and statistics that showed how women empowerment and democracy are inter-related with each other.

Hatixhe Berani spoke on the issue of challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. She stated that rural women have a less access to resources like land, livestock, financial services and education than men. Berani also discussed the fact that even though mainly rural women contribute to the family, as men largely control the sale of resources, they seem to have more decision-making power on the allocation of household income and stated that men have a substantial role in a family and community. She highlighted the lack of women`s integration into the society and how this fact is leading to mismanagement of the human capital. Berani also discussed the economic costs of having less rural women active in the labor force as well. Her speech echoed the importance of financial equality between men and women.

Dr. Sophia Pandya, spoke on the Turkish Refugee Women living in the US.  She commenced her discussion with the failed coup attempt in Turkey. She highlighted that tens of thousands of women, including housewives, journalists, teachers, academics, physicians, health care professionals and businesswomen have been detained in the aftermath of the attempted coup. Thousands of women had to leave their country as a result of the persecution and social labeling. Dr. Pandya discussed the collective trauma of women refuges and the consequences of this incident: depression, anxiety, financial stress, a sense of betrayal, ruptures in their relationships at every level, diminished ability to parent effectively. Dr. Pandya emphasized the importance helping the refugee and purged women to get their lives back together. She said that “reordering” takes place in the aftermath of political conflicts. For the most vulnerable victims, Dr. Pandya underlined that getting lives back together for healing will be an immense challenge.

Dr. Zuleyha Colak, who presented a case study in Turkey, discussed the women rights under attack in Turkey after the failed coup attempt.  She commenced her discussion with State of Emergency, which is imposed following the coup attempt, and remains in force till then. Dr. Colak underlined that the current government passes Decree Laws without parliamentary and judicial scrutiny. She highlighted how the purge renders women more powerless than ever in Turkey. Economic freedom of thousands of women has been taken from their hands. According to the figures compiled by the Women`s Coalition, women constituted at least 19.6% (19,774) of the 100.797 public employees who were dismissed by Decree-Laws of the State of Emergency in Turkey. One third of 226 students, whose financial aid for study abroad canceled are women. Thousands of academics dismissed from public universities are women. Dr. Colak underlined that they are having difficulties finding another job because they are smeared. She stated that the women are forced to live under the social security of their family members or their spouses or to work unregistered.

Lastly Dr. Colak mentioned that women`s civic activism in Turkey is totally crushed as hundreds of local women`s associations closed during the state of emergency period. She concluded that tens of thousands of women from all walks of life, with 650 children aged between 0-6 are kept in prison aftermath of the failed coup attempt in Turkey. Dr. Colak informed that audience that currently there are 65 pregnant women imprisoned and 5 babies lost their lives as a result of miscarriages in jails.

 

Leaving the Country that We Devoted our Lives

Leaving the Country that We Devoted our Lives

I never knew I had such strong ties to this world. Leaving my home was deeply painful. Even more hurtful, my country was now closing the doors to us. My plan was to visit the US for a short time, to be with my daughter, who was expecting her second baby. And then return home quickly. If I’d had any idea of what was waiting for me would I have ever left my beloved country?

I am married to a soldier and our country is everything for us. During my husband’s service in the military, we traveled across Turkey, never staying in the same place for more than 2 years. We made friends that we had to leave, we never had a permanent place or a set lifestyle. In the eastern part of Turkey, my husband’s service was significant for combating terrorism. Because of stress, he was diagnosed with diabetes at an earlier age, and even though he was eligible for early retirement, he preferred to continue to serve his country and people. He never would have imagined that there would be a day that he, himself would be accused of being a terrorist. His tears are for the country that he put his life on the line for–not the accusations he was faced with. For a soldier, country means life.

Everything started when our flight on July 22nd was canceled when there were not enough passengers. Our first option was to fly on July 15th, coinciding with my nephew’s wedding ceremony. So, I selected July 16th, which turned out to be the date after the unfortunate event: the coup attempt on July 15th.  Though I was worried about my country, I boarded the plane and flew to the U.S to take care of my daughter as she was getting ready to give birth soon. But gradually I came to understand that it was actually me who needed help, and that was why I had traveled.

After we arrived in the US, we started receiving bad news about our loved ones. My son-in-law’s two uncles were imprisoned, my nephew was dismissed from his job. My other nephew, an assistant professor at a prestigious university, was fired and, later, my own brother was imprisoned.  I learned how difficult it is to be accused of actions that you would not even have thought of.  My daughter’s mother in law and I were depressed, and our supporter was my daughter…

At the time, my husband and son were in Turkey, and I was not able to convince them to come to the US. My husband was retired, he was not on active duty; but since our country and the people were going through difficulties, he felt that he needed to be there to provide support and care. And, why would he consider leaving his country when he had not done anything wrong?  As we were listening to the news, and hearing from our loved ones in Turkey, we were realizing that things were starting to get out of control. One day, I was about to lose my mind when I heard a school teacher who had diabetes died in prison. I kept pressuring my husband, and he and my son finally came to the US. We initially thought this period would last for a short time, misunderstandings would be resolved soon, and we would be able to go back to the country that we were born, raised, served and lived our lives happily.  But, this did not come true. We started hearing accusations about me. My husband’s nephew and a close friend were detained. Everyone around us kept saying that this period would last for a long time, and that we should move permanently to US, but it was difficult for us to accept this. I had lots to do for my country, I wanted to serve more. For the first time, we had the chance to live in a city for a long time, and we had made long lasting friendships. How would I leave those behind? When my home was evacuated, and my valuable furniture was dispersed, then I understood that I was left homeless, without a homeland.

Was it just me who was facing difficulties?  Many people were left penniless and without jobs, spouses, or kids. They did not have any money to give to an attorney, to start a case, or to feed their families. Parents were kicking their own kids out of the house; and kids were reporting their own parents. With that, it was the time for me to get back to myself, and to start helping those in need. I heard about a group of volunteers who were making and selling homemade pickles and pasta, and sending the earnings to needy people in Turkey. I joined them shortly after, and this effort motivated me greatly. We were working so hard that I had left my worries behind, I did not have any time for listening to myself.  But at the same time, we were faced with the harsh realities: we needed to start a life and make a living here. We needed to have our own place, as we could not keep living with my daughter and son-in-law forever. Most of all, my daughter was seeing her parents crying all the time, and this had led to her getting depressed over time. We were ruining our daughter’s life. We needed to act quickly to start our lives, and stand on our own two feet.

Friends said “you are a good cook; everyone here works and doesn’t have time to cook. If you start cooking and delivery, this will meet a significant need, and on top of that, it could help you make some money.” Nowadays, I work as a caterer, and guess who is my helper? Someone who did not even cook a soup for me during my pregnancy: my husband! We work so hard together, we don’t even have time to think. With our earnings, we try to contribute to our family budget, and also help brothers and sisters in Turkey by sending some of our earnings.  This has really helped us get beyond our own worries. Throughout this time, I’ve understood that the only thing that would help you endure is to not to focus on your own worries, but to think about others who are in need.

Not Searching for Heaven, Just Escaping from Hell

Not Searching for Heaven, Just Escaping from Hell

My father was a teacher who had dedicated himself to his students. After his retirement, he founded an association to provide scholarships for poor children. Simply because of his political opinions, he has been accused with terrorism and put in prison since May 2016. We know that his friend was tortured under police custody and we fear the same thing happened to my father, too. He denies it, possibly not to upset us, but we read all about the maltreatment and torture my father went through in his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

My mother faced the prosecutor who charged my father with terrorism, and asked him what evidence he has to imprison and torture her husband. His response was simply blood-chilling: “I will never release him because he betrayed his country, and he will learn to obey. My advice to you is to divorce your husband because you will never see him again.” Could you imagine that moment? My mother lived through that and tried to be strong in spite of it.

All of a sudden our neighbors turned into spies and voluntary investigators to harass us, such as our next door neighbor who raided our house one night and accused me of being a traitor. Why? Because I borrowed their laptop to write my fellowship application to the US (all the computers in our house were confiscated by the police as evidence), and he had it translated to see what I wrote in my application letter. This man, who was a close friend of my father at a time, was now threatening to kill me because I complained about my country’s situation in my fellowship application letter. After the arrest of my father, the police raided our house once again because of my father’s tweets against the government. This time my mom could not take it anymore; she fainted and stayed in hospital due to an unknown sickness for five months.

As we were occupied with her treatment in the hospital, I got detained in January 2017 with the same accusation and I spent 5 horrible nights under police custody. On the first day of my detention, I had an asthma attack and cried very loudly. Then a police officer came and yelled at me, saying “you are a terrorist, stop acting like an innocent victim!” It was 3 am, and I heard him beating the other detainees in the nearby cell. Then they turned off the heater during a freezing night in January. Luckily, I survived that night, and the next day we were transferred to another city where the case was opened.

I cannot tell anything about the 5 days I spent under detention, because I am embarrassed of myself to remember how weak I was. I had thought myself to be a strong person, a human rights defender… But the accusation of terrorism and the treatment we had under custody was so heavy that I could not remain calm, or say the words I wanted to say. I was being accused of terrorism but all the questions I was asked by the prosecutor were about my legal everyday activities, such as my bank account, my media subscriptions, my residences during college years… These had nothing to do with terrorism, but only marks of affiliation with a legal social network that all of a sudden was declared to be a terrorist organization by the government authorities. I was again, “lucky” to have a heart disease and asthma report that got me released from detention, but my friends from college were arrested and they have been in prison since then.

Soon after, my husband was fired from his job as a research assistant at a public university, without any legal process. It was simply because of being married to me that he lost his job and all his financial rights and benefits. The rule of law in the country was totally missing, and we saw no other way than leave the country.  But obviously, we could not do it the normal way.

We searched for ways of exit, and found one. We were going to walk across the border with a guide, I mean, a smuggler! As he was driving us to the border city, he asked us if we were political dissidents or ordinary criminals. He said, if we got caught at the border the police officers would release the ordinary criminals but arrest the “terrorists” like us. That made me realize that political opposition is a bigger crime than murder or burglary. How sad!

Then we came to the most difficult part of our escape: crossing the border by boat. In recent years, I had read and heard a lot of stories about refugees desperately making a life-threatening journey, mostly the Syrian refugees. But now, it was me who was taking this journey. There were only two options for me at that moment: stay and be imprisoned, or cross the border and be free. It reminded me a phrase I read at an article: refugees don’t escape to have a heavenly life, they just escape from hell to anywhere.

We walked for one hour to reach the bordering river. It was raining, I was praying, and my husband and our guide were inflating the boat. The guide said “be careful because after a few minutes the gendarme will come here with dogs for patrol. We must be ready to hide when we hear their voice.” We must be ready? How could I be ready?  But God’s mercy was with us, as He covered the sky with dark clouds for us so that we were able to inflate the boat in forty minutes without being seen. I felt the serenity when the moment came to board the inflated boat to say goodbye to my country in a condition that I had never imagined in my life. Despite the darkness, I could see everything, hear the singing of the birds, smell the earth and the flowers. I remembered, and uttered the same words Prophet Muhammad said when he was forced to leave Mecca, his beloved city: “I would have never left you if they had not forced me to leave!”

We crossed the river, and walked for four hours to arrive in Greece. The rest was easy because we had visas for Europe and USA. We were able to safely board the plane to the US and come to Chicago, where we are settled now. Thankfully, we are safe here from government persecution, but my loved ones are still back in Turkey having to live under that persecution. Soon after I came. here, my mom was detained and stayed under custody for five days, released with a pending trial. There is no way for her to leave the country unless she takes the same dangerous journey I took, and she is not physically healthy enough to do that. Also, she cannot leave my father behind, who is still in prison. My brother, on the other hand, was quick enough to fly here and live with me when his classmates from college were arrested. He had to quit law school in order to live without the fear of being arrested anytime.

Despite all that happened to us, we consider ourselves among the lucky ones because we were able to escape from that hell, which is still home to many of our family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Behind the numbers, are lives that are destroyed. My story is only one of them, and not the worst one yet.

Access Sacramento TV hosts Set Them Free

On December 11th, 2017, Access Sacramento TV Channel 17 is featuring Fatih Ates, in “The Lighthouse for Today’s Viewers”. The show is hosted by Nahid Kabbani. It covers a little bit of politics, religion, and human rights abuses in Turkey. After learning the fact that innocent women and children are jailed in Turkey, Nahid expresses her feelings, “This is like going backward a thousand years instead of moving forward.”

Please see the whole show via www. accesssacramento.org.

“East West” Music Concert for the Benefit of Turkey Purge Victims

There was a music concert “East West” at a local church in LA this Sunday evening, Dec 3rd. It included English and Turkish songs by the volunteers of the church and the Pacifica Institute. The concert was accompanied by a photo exhibit named “What precious I brought in my luggage.” Both the concert and the exhibit were very therapeutic for the community who went through some hard times. The proceedings of the event will be donated to a relief organization for the benefit of the Turkey purge victims.

Huddled Masses Panel Discussion on the Imprisoned Women and Children

On Monday, Nov. 13th two panelists from Chicago’s Huddled Masses Advocacy women group went to speak at a panel at Carthage College in Kenosha, IL. Panel consisted of three panelists, two of whom were Ayse Nur, a lawyer from Turkey and Rana Yurtsever, Associate Director of Niagara Foundation. The third speaker was the college’s Gender and Women Studies Department Head.

Yurtsever set the context of the discussion by briefly speaking about the coup attempt, the persecutions and profiles of 3 women all persecuted with different cases. Then she spoke about the imprisoned children and called the audience to action. Ayse Nur, then, told her story of fleeing Turkey as a result of her persecution.

The panel was attended by the university’s provost as well as 15 professors all from different departments of the school. Following the panel discussion, Ayse Nur and Yurtsever were hosted at a dinner at the President’s Office alongside 6 department heads and spoke in more detail about the persecutions in Turkey.

My Mom’s Heart is Too Weak For Prison

My Mom’s Heart is Too Weak For Prison

I grew up as a kid who was always supported and encouraged by my family. My mom was a brave, loving woman despite her heart disease and all the challenges of life. She owned a kindergarten and was also working there as a teacher. She was never out of time or energy to play with me and my brother although she spent all her days taking care of children. My little brother was born with a bone tumor, so her sensitive heart was also burdened by the ailment of her younger son. Although my family was already suffering the financial cost of these health issues, they still decided to send me to the United States so that I could get a better education. “Go and make us proud” they said.

Our hearts were always connected although we were physically apart; we talked on the phone via FaceTime everyday. My mom was not able to travel due to her health issue, but despite that they had bought tickets to fly here for a surprise visit. My 4-year old brother was crazy about taking a flight for the first time, and I was happily making preparations for them in my little apartment. Yet, all my dreams were shattered on the day they went to the airport to board the plane. When I heard that they were taken into custody at the airport, I thought “there must be a mistake; I hope they don’t miss the flight.” But it turned out to be a very serious situation as I learned that even my 4-year-old brother was questioned by the police in a room separate from my parents. My mom and dad were both arrested, their passports were taken, and my little brother was going to be taken as orphanage as he was left with nobody to take care of him. All this felt totally unreal to me, like a bad joke, as I had to live through this nightmare miles away from them.

I learned that my grandparents rushed to the police station and tried to console my little brother who was shaking with fear. My mom was thrown into a cell–without being able to take her medication. My little brother would be in a state orphanage now if my grandma had not grabbed him firmly and insisted on not letting him go. It was unbelievable for me to hear these things when I was just dreaming of the days we would spend together in the United States. My family was all of a sudden split up by a senseless accusation of terrorism. Their only “crime” was to have downloaded a publicly available mobile chat app -now infamously known as Bylock. They were accused of betraying the nation and put in a prison cell reserved for the most serious crimes in Turkey.  The judge asked them why they were going to the US, what their son is doing in the US, as if it were a sign of being a US spy. He eventually decided to imprison them despite having no evidence.

Imprisoned… My parents… My mom who was a kindergarten teacher, and my dad who provided scholarships for students by collecting donations as a local NGO director… Now they were being treated worse than murderers and drug dealers. Not just them, but thousands of innocent doctors, police officers, teachers, and their kids and babies have been labeled as terrorists in Turkey. Is it possible for a country to totally lose its conscience?!

I am not allowed to talk with my parents on the phone because I am in the US. All I can do is to hear about their situation from my grandparents and pray for my family. Although they tried to hide it from me, I found out my mom had a heart attack in prison. They said that the prison guards woke everyone up in the ward in the middle of the night by hitting on the prison bars with their batons and shouting insults at the inmates -which was too much for my mom’s ailing heart.

She has been kept in prison despite her health problems, and she suffered two heart attacks already during her pre-trial detention. It is as if the prison officials are deliberately being harsh, rude, and abusive to the inmates who were arrested following the post-July 15 purge. I think they believe their mistreatment of the prisoners will be rewarded rather than punished. When my maternal grandmother went to the prison to see my mom, she saw that my mom was barely able to walk… According to what she told her, the prison officials give their meals in the pots and pans, without any plates or utensils to eat with. The water is cut off frequently so they can’t wash themselves. All signs point to a deliberate attempt to dehumanize the decent, well-educated citizens who were imprisoned unjustly; and I don’t know what else to do other than telling others about the plight of all these innocent people and their children.

Just recently I heard that a pregnant woman died in prison after telling the officials that she did not feel her baby alive in her womb… I don’t know if I will hear similar bad news from my mom, who has to stay in prison with chronic heart disease. The officials are unchecked, and unhinged in their violation of basic human rights. But I believe that there will be a day when everybody involved in this crime against humanity will face their day in court and get their due punishment. And those who silently witness these crimes will be held responsible on Judgment Day.

 

 

Cost of Turkey Purge: A Drowning Family in the Coasts of Mytilene Island

On November 21, 2017, the Greek Coast guards in the Mytilene Island found bodies of a family of 5, drowned while trying to cross the Aegean Sea. This tragedy of the teachers, father and mother, and their 3 kids is just like a summary of the mass persecution towards Hizmet movement members in Turkey.

Huseyin Maden was a 40-year-old science teacher and his wife, Nur Maden, was a 36 year old preschool teacher. The family resided in Kastamonu with their daughters Nadire (13) and Nur (10) and their son Feridun (7). Huseyin Maden used to work at a public school before he was expelled from his profession with a decree law after July 15. Then, he was investigated with the accusation of “being a member of a terrorist organization”. Fearing getting arrested and leaving the kids alone, the couple had decided hide from the police.

They managed to hide in different places for a year but police had searched for them in their own house several times. In the mean time, Huseyin Maden was trying to make ends meet with a job that had no insurance and made $250 a month. However, the pressure on Hizmet Movement members was getting heavier each day and Huseyin Maden decided to go abroad with the last money that was left. They had lost most of their savings due to getting expelled from their jobs, and seizure of their possessions by the government. According to the information their family gave, Huseyin Maden made contact with several smugglers but he just did not have enough money to afford the fees asked for a family of 5.

So, he borrowed some money from his friends to add what was left in him, and he bought an old boat. Without knowing how to use a boat, he decided to take his family to the Mytilene Island of Greece and seek asylum there.

His friend, whom he went to borrow some money from, described his last night: “We did not sleep till the morning prayer, and we converse

d. He told me about his second hand clothing that he bought only for $2.5. We did the morning prayer together, he even led the prayer. I was asleep afterwards; he woke me up before leaving. I walked with him and we said our goodbyes. He was carrying his stuff in a plastic bag. Lastly, he said “I really don’t want to go but we have no option. I don’t know anyone there. We are going to an uncertain future”. I asked how much money he had and he said “only about $1500. Allah is great.” Then he said goodbye. I don’t usually cry but watching him leave like that, I shed a few tears. There was a different sadness in our home.

JOURNEY DAY
Then, 40-year-old science teacher Huseyin Maden sailed through the wild waves of the Aegean Sea with his family. The next thing that was heard from them was the final text message he sent to his family: “ We saw the lights, getting ashore soon”.

Twenty days had passed after his last message. Their families tried to comfort themselves with the thought of them “at least” getting arrested and put in a refugee camp in Mytilene Island. Their calls were never answered.

However, the bodies of 3 kids washed ashore on Lesbos Beach of Mytilene Island: the bodies of two girls and a boy. The description of Greek police gave completely matched with Maden family’s kids. Also, there was no trace of that family in the refugee camps.

BURIEDBecause of the severe decomposition by seawater, it has stated that the kids’ bodies had to be buried after taking their DNA samples.
Although their relatives in Turkey are struggling to get to Greece and take the deceased, they haven’t gotten their visa yet to cross the border.

A SUCCESSFUL TEACHER
Huseyin Maden was a very successful physics teacher. The details about the science fair once he partnered with TUBITAK are still posted on the official website of the Ministry of National Education. In the official website; “the TUBITAK 4006 Science Fair that was conducted by our physics teacher Huseyin Maden, was carried out in May 22-23, 2015 thanks to the devoted work of our teachers and students.”

WHY HE LEFT TURKEY
According to the information Huseyin Maden’s friends gave, he was struggling with serious health problems although he was only 40.

He had undergone surgeries on his kidney, liver and spleen. Therefore he was worried about his health problems could deteriorate and risk his life if he was to be arrested. Besides, there was an arrest warrant issued for his wife, and it was unacceptable to leave the three kids without both of the parents.

After Huseyin Maden was expelled and his properties were seized, his financial situation was getting really worse. The kids were unab

le to get their education because the family had to hide. All of these reasons made the family take risks, condemned to social death in Turkey, and tried to flee to Greece, which costs their lives.

Press Statement: 668 CHILDREN IMPRISONED IN TURKEY ON WORLD CHILDREN’S DAY

668 CHILDREN IMPRISONED IN TURKEY ON WORLD CHILDREN’S DAY

Campaigns and protests to bring attention to the 668 children unlawfully imprisoned in Turkey’s prisons are still taking place globally this universal Children’s Day. While such an injustice has not been reported or had any notable presence in either the global or Turkish media, AST members and volunteer participants organized a press conference on November 20, 2017.

AST members organized protests for the children held captive in Turkey’s prison system under the slogan “Set Them Free.” Those who attended the protests brought their children along. The young children who participated held freedom banners for 668 of their peers jailed in Turkey.

At their press conference, AST spokespeople emphasized that the Erdogan administration does not only target children and babies but also their mothers, primarily housewives, as political prisoners. With many of their personal liberties siezed, mothers are held with their children in unsanitary and cramped conditions traumatic and detrimental to the development of children.

The AST members dispersed peacefully following the press conference:

Remembering Babies and Toddlers in Jail on Children’s Day

Set Them Free volunteers in San Fransisco gathered at Civic Center/UN Plaza on November 20  to raise their voice on behalf of the unlawfully imprisoned mothers and their babies in Turkey. Here is a read-out of their statement:

November 20th is the United Nations World Children’s Day, which marks the anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. On this significant day, we gathered here to speak up for at least 668 babies and toddlers in Turkey who are unlawfully imprisoned alongside their mothers. The majority of these mothers are among the 17000 women who have been detained as part of the massive political purge in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that “childhood is entitled to special care and assistance.” Yet we sadly observe that children as young as newborn babies are forced to carry the burdens of the adult life under the conditions of political oppression and violent conflicts. The state of emergency rule declared by the government of Turkey after the failed coup attempt has totally undermined the rule of law in the country, putting the most vulnerable ones into great peril. As we demand swift and fair trial for all the political prisoners in Turkey, we are especially concerned about the children between age zero and six who have been imprisoned with their mothers that are waiting for trial for more than a year now. We urge the judicial administration in Turkey to follow the due process and obey the national and international law that require trial without arrest or postponement of convicted sentences for pregnant women and mothers with babies. It is a shame for any country to arrest women right after delivery, let alone causing pregnant women to lose their babies under pre-trial detention due to abuse and maltreatment. 

The state of emergency rule in Turkey already makes it difficult to access up-to-date and objective information about the prison conditions from official sources. However, the reports by independent human rights organizations, testimonies from former inmates and the lawyers of current inmates give us quite a dark picture about the lives of babies and toddlers in prisons. They are forced to live in overcrowded prison wards without seeing the sky, they do not have enough space to crawl, they are not allowed to have toys, they are not given separate beds nor special baby food for their age. Their speech development is delayed due to constantly being shushed as the other inmates get disturbed when they cry. In other words, they are forced to suffer with the adults, like the adults!