Mothers of the Turkish Air Force Academy cadets sentenced to life imprisonment for their alleged involvement in 2016’s failed coup attempt, on Friday, demanded their sons be released.
According to a report by Adil Ergin Bagci from the T24 news portal, the mothers on Friday gathered in the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD)’s building in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district to call on the Turkish government, once again, to free their children.
“For three and a half years, our children have pined for freedom, while we have pined for them,” a representative for the mothers underlined in Friday’s statement.
“The indictment was prepared a year after they had been arrested [in 2016]. They were given life sentences four months later. They now stay in groups of 45 people in prison wards each designed for only seven people,” she outlined.
“We were kicked out of every governmental institution that we applied to make our voices heard. We had to look for justice in the streets. However, they [police officers] detained us [briefly] every time we took to the streets,” the mothers explained, referring to their previous protests.
Turkish courts sentenced 187 of the 259 students, who were detained over charges related to the failed coup that targeted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) on July 15, 2016, to life imprisonment.
The mothers recently staged several peaceful sit-in protests in Istanbul and capital Ankara that resulted in harsh police intervention that saw the mothers beaten and briefly detained.
The mothers further claimed in Friday’s statement that the court, which sentenced their children to life in prison, disregarded all the evidence proving that those military school students had not participated in the attempted coup.
“We want this atrocity to end and our innocent children to be set free. We demand this from the senior government officials, from Turkey’s Justice Ministry,” the mothers emphasized.
Speaking to T24 following the press statement, Ayten Gulesci, one of the mothers, underlined that they do not accept their children being prosecuted for treason.
“We want the truth to come out. We are tired of this. They [officials] must do what is necessary [to free the military cadets],” she added.
The military school students had been accused of being members of the faith-based Gulen movement that is claimed by the ruling AKP government to have orchestrated 2016’s coup attempt.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP government also designates the movement, led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, as a terrorist organization.
Although Gulen and his followers strongly deny the accusations, the Turkish state has detained or arrested some 77,000 people while prosecuting more than 511,000 over suspected links to the movement since the putsch bid.