"The Turkish government killed my baby" says Turkish asylum seeker, Ayse B

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By Hans von der Brelie
"The Turkish government killed my baby" says Turkish asylum seeker, Ayse B

We are in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, where we met Ayse B, an asylum seeker from Turkey.

Before leaving Turkey, Ayse worked as a teacher for a school affiliated with the Gülen movement.

Her husband, a primary school teacher, was hiding back in Turkey for two years following a police raid of their apartment in Istanbul a week after the 2016 coup attempt.

Ayse, a mother of two, was detained on August 30, 2018, while she was living in her parents' house in Ankara, accused of being a "member of a terrorist organisation."

During 32 hours of detention, she lost her third child, in her 8th week of pregnancy.

Today she lives in security with her two children in Thessaloniki. She volunteers at art-classes; an attempt to bring some colours into the lives of Serap, Ferida and other children of exiled Turkish families, now living in northern Greece.

“After the coup d'Etat, my husband and I were dismissed from our jobs," says Ayse.

"One of my husband's colleagues had called the police saying that he was a terrorist. My husband decided to escape, because we all heard about the bad news, especially in Istanbul and Ankara."

"My husband lived as an escapee for two years. I was alone with the children."

"During these two years, I lived with mine and my husband's family. At the end of those two years, I was arrested because I was working for a Gülen affiliated school and because of the 50 Turkish Lira I donated for a Gülen organisation and because of Gülen affiliated newspapers I had subscribed to."

"We have two children and my husband and I thought we could not live together in Turkey because of the arrest warrants and so we decided to leave our country."

Ayse still remembers the day, when policemen took her into custody:

"Dictators don’t like books: In the morning at 5 a.m. the Turkish police came to our house. They were looking for books, written by Fethullah Gülen. After the coup attempt we had already burnt our books in the bread oven, because it was considered by the Turkish authorities to be proof of being a terrorist."

"But I am not a terrorist. I can not accept this accusation.”

The time in police custody was a nightmare for Ayse. She told the police about her pregnancy, but the officers did not pay any attention.

“I was 8 weeks pregnant when I was imprisoned. And when I was released, I went to hospital and learnt that my baby was killed in my womb. The Turkish government is responsible for my baby's death."

"I believe that my baby did not die...it was killed."

With not enough money to pay for a people smuggler for the whole family, only Ayse's husband attempted to travel to the UK, hoping to get granted asylum protection there and organizing family reunification afterwards.

But their plan failed. During the travel, her husband was arrested in Germany without valid papers.

Ayse fears that he is still in prison. So she appeals to the German government: "Please set my husband free and grant him asylum protection in Germany."

Journalist • Katy Dartford