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3-year-old in intensive care, purge victim parents in detention after boat tragedy

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A three-year-old Turkish boy is fighting for his life and his parents are in police custody after their boat capsized in the Aegean Sea as they were trying to flee an ongoing government crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement in Turkey, according to a Turkish deputy.

The news about the tragedy was shared by Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights activist and deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) from his Twitter account on Sunday.

According to Gergerlioğlu, the family was trying to make their way to Greece’s Lesbos Island from the Ayvalık coast in western Turkey.

“It is again the Aegean Sea, another boat sinking, another…” Gergerlioğlu tweeted while talking about the tragedy of the Karabulut family.

When their boat capsized, father Erol Karabulut and mother Gülistan, who is eight months pregnant, and their son Ekrem were rescued by a Turkish gendarmerie team. The mother was subsequently arrested on Sunday, while the father was taken into police custody in Ayvalık.

The boy, whose situation is critical, is being treated in the intensive care unit at Ege University Hospital without his parents beside him. Relatives of the family are calling on Turkish authorities on social media to allow the child’s parents to be with their son at a time when he is fighting for his life.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive post-coup witch-hunt carried out by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the aftermath a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup attempt and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Many have tried to flee Turkey by illegal means as the government had cancelled the passports of thousands of people. Some families who took risky journeys in inflatable boats to reach Greece via the Maritsa River or the Aegean Sea perished when their boats capsized.

More than 400,000 people have been investigated in Turkey over Gülen links, according to Turkish Justice Ministry.

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