A leading columnist has called on Turkey’s authorities to lift a travel ban that is stopping a woman from being with her cancer-stricken son.
Ahmet Nesin, a columnist for the Arti Gercek news portal, called on authorities to lift the travel ban on Zekiye Atac, the mother of 9-year-old Burhan Atac, who is suffering from cancer so that she can be reunited with her son.
Burhan Atac suffers from osteosarcoma, commonly known as bone cancer. His case has become renowned in Turkey and abroad through social media.
Burhan’s father, Yahya Atac, a former teacher expelled by an emergency decree, is currently jailed on terror charges as part of a broader crackdown carried out by Ankara following the failed 2016 coup. Burhan’s mother, Zekiye Atac, is also being tried on similar charges.
Both are accused of being Gulenists.
Zekiye, facing a travel ban due to the ongoing trial, told reporter Haci Biskin from Gazete Duvar news portal in November 2019 that she applied to many hospitals in Turkey and her son’s treatment would only be possible by a new method called immunotherapy used in a medical center located in Cologne, Germany.
Burhan’s deteriorating health due to cancer and his mother’s inability to travel abroad as a result of what many critics in Turkey see as political charges, drew many to raise money to fund his treatment in Germany.
Fifty thousand euro required for the treatment he would receive in Germany was raised, and two weeks ago, he traveled to Germany, albeit without his mother. Zekiye Atac told her son that she would meet him in two weeks as she hoped that authorities would abolish the travel ban.
However, no such help came from authorities, and after two weeks, Burhan Atac reportedly stopped eating protesting at his mother’s absence.
Kara Efem ,acılar içinde..Ne çok ihtiyaçı var Annesine..😭😭😭
— Arlet Natali AVAZYAN (@NataliAVAZYAN) February 4, 2020
Arlet Natali Avazyan, an Armenian-Turkish rights activist, recently visited Burhan and posted a video of him crying that read, “My poor boy is in agony. He needs his mom more than ever.”
On Monday, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP and prominent rights advocate Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu also called on authorities to lift the travel ban of Zekiye Atac.
Ankara accuses Gulen Movement of being behind the failed 2016 failed coup and designates the organization, led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, as a terrorist organization.
The Turkish authorities have embarked on a crackdown campaign against Gulenists and pro-Kurdish political movement since the coup bid.
After the failed coup on July 15, 2016, more than 300 thousand faced travel bans abroad. According to figures given by Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu in May 2019, that figure now stands around 100 thousand.
According to a recent UN report reviewing Turkey’s human rights record, nearly 130,000 people were dismissed from their posts via emergency decrees with the force of law, and more than 50,000 were imprisoned.