Turkey Clamps Down On Scores of Kids, Accuse Them Of Treason

It was a Friday afternoon in the middle of Turkey's long summer holiday, but Emre, a 15-year-old boy studying at Istanbul's oldest military high school, was sitting in a classroom to resit an exam he failed. Hours later, chaos unfolded in the city's streets when a rogue group of officers and generals attempted to stage a coup. Tanks rolled over the Bosphorus Bridge and low-flying jets roared over the streets.

Emre's mother was worried sick; earlier in the day, she had received a call from the school
informing her that her son had been invited to a "cocktail party" after his exam. She had heard nothing since. At 4am, finally, her phone rang. "Mum," said her son, "bad things are happening. They took away my phone. They made us wear uniforms and gave us empty guns. They told us to guard the school."

Emre mentioned their commanders had fled the school before hanging up the phone. He was arrested shortly after, along with 62 of his fellow students at Kuleli Military School. The students, aged between 14 and 17 years old, were made to dress up in camouflage and were handed guns with empty magazines, their lawyers say.

Since that Friday night, the children have been detained in prison, unable to speak to their parents, and accused of treason against the state.
"Our child has never held a gun before. They were used, they were forced to do this," said his mother, who was waiting for news along with dozens of other parents outside Maltepe Prison on Istanbul's Asian side.

"Taking children and forcing them to carry out your orders is worse than any terror attack," she told the Telegraph,speaking quietly so the prison guards would not hear her. Emre is not her son's real name; fearing that speaking to the media would harm his case, she requested anonymity for her family. Other children, the parents said, had been told by the school that they would meet famous football players if they came to school that evening.

Some teenagers told their lawyers that they had seen their commanders take three civilians hostage and beat them tied to a tree. When the commanders ordered them outside,one student hid in a closet, but was forced at gunpoint to participate. The families and lawyers of the 62 detained children fear that amid the mass purges in the judiciary and the anti-coup protesters' thirst for revenge, their sons could be denied a fair trial.

"Some families haven't heard anything from their children for seven days — children at the age of 14 or 15. That's not something that should be happening even in a state of emergency," said Nazli Tanburaci Altac, a lawyer representing three of the Kuleli students.

She said three of the students had been subjected to a mass preliminary hearing of 55 prisoners in a single crowded courtroom, adding: "They got just two to three minutes to testify". The boys' families were not allowed to attend. Outside Maltepe Prison, a father of a 14-year-old student says he has not been allowed to speak to his son since last Friday, when he, too, went off to the school's "cocktail party".

"Our son went to this school because he loved Atatürk" — the founder of the Turkish Republic — "and it was his decision to enrol," the father says. "We have nothing to do with Gülen's organisation. We have no sympathy for them."
"They are just children. They are innocent," his wife interrupted. "The state needs to separate the guilty ones from the innocent ones."
The father let out a bitter laugh. "How can they do that? In Turkey, there is no rule of law anymore."


Culled from:Telegraph UK

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