Turkish teacher Ayşe Çelik, who was jailed with her baby in April on terror charges because she had said, “Don’t let children die,” on a TV program, has been released from prison and confined to house arrest by the court, following an appeal by her lawyer, Mahsuni Karaman, who shared the decision on Twitter.
Çelik, an unemployed teacher from the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakır, was sentenced to one year, three months in April 2017, and an appeals court upheld the sentence in October. She was jailed on April 20 with her six-month-old daughter, Deran.
Then, she made a decision for her baby to live on the outside because prison conditions were too difficult for an infant. Deran was sent to her grandmother and is brought to the prison every day for breastfeeding.
According to Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights activist, Çelik was put in a prison cell that had a capacity of 20 people, but there were 33 adults and nine babies in the cell, so Çelik’s baby was sent to her grandmother, but the baby gets sick while traveling between home and prison.
“So much tyranny is because she [Çelik] said, ‘Peace and life.’ Teacher Ayşe should be released and reunited with her baby,” Gergerlioğlu tweeted on Wednesday.
In the meantime, Turkey’s Constitutional Court has rejected an individual application from Çelik in which she asked to be released on judicial probation, according to a tweet from Çelik’s lawyer Karaman.
An investigation was launched into Çelik after she called in to the popular “Beyaz Show“ on Jan. 8, 2016 and urged authorities to take action to prevent the killing of children in clashes between Turkish security forces and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
During the TV program, Çelik said: “Are you aware of what’s going on in the country’s east? What’s happening here is misrepresented on television. Don’t stay silent! Please show more sensitivity as human beings! See us, hear us and give us a hand! I’d like to address the teachers who have abandoned their students. How are they going to return there? How are they going to look those innocent children in the eye? What a pity! Don’t let people die. Don’t let children die. Don’t let mothers cry.”
The host of the program, Beyazıt Öztürk, had the audience applaud her by saying: “We are trying our best to make it heard. Your words have been a lesson for us. We will continue to do more. Hopefully your wishes for peace will be realized as soon as possible.”
Following the show, the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Çelik for “praising terrorism and a terrorist organization,” and the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated a separate investigation into Öztürk and Çelik on similar charges.
In the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, more than 17,000 women from all walks of life including teachers, doctors and housewives have been jailed in Turkey on coup charges in government-led operations. There are currently more than 700 children accompanying their mothers in Turkish jails.