The popular Turkish satirical magazine, LeMan, designed its recent front cover satirising the situation in Turkey where approximately 700 babies are currently imprisoned.
In an election campaign speech made by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP Abdulah Arvas on January 19 in Turkey’s eastern city Van, he said, “If we (the ruling party) do not win this election, ladies with headscarves will not be able to walk freely in the streets.”
The speech bubble above the caricature of the baby displayed on the cover of LeMan reads, “Will we be able to walk freely, Uncle Arvas?” The picture that depicts imprisoned women with headscarves, whose majority are alleged Gulen Movement affiliates, with their babies and is aimed at satirising MP Arvas’ comments.
“There are currently 700 babies in Turkish prisons where the living conditions are very bad. Prison is not the place for a baby. They cannot grow up behind bars,” said pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu at a press conference held in parliament in October 2018. “There are heavy violations of human rights currently in prisons,” Gergerlioglu added.
“National assembly must establish a research committee to free the imprisoned babies along with their mothers,” tweeted the Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Sezgin Tanrikulu. Tanrikulu motioned a parliamentary question over the imprisoned babies in 2017.
Following the coup attempt of July 2016, the Turkish authorities carried out a crackdown on the Gulen Movement, led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Ankara of orchestrating the putsch attempt. More than 150,000 public servants were expelled from their jobs, 217,000 detained and 82,000 arrested as part of the crackdown. Gulen denies all accusations and calls for an impartial international investigation to resolve the July coup attempt.
Turkish officials have defended the widespread arrest and detention of thousands of Turkish citizens, including women and children, claiming it is vital to national security. “If we show mercy, we turn into those to be shown mercy,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to critics of the crackdown, denouncing the relentless manner of the arrests.