A Filipina mother forcibly has been separated from her 13-month-old daughter and expelled from Turkey in the crackdown against a failed coup in which she had no part.
Identified as Karen Lim, the mother reportedly first was jailed without charges, then taken away from her infant to a migrant camp, prior to summary deportation.
The banishment was set for last Sunday, Nov. 13; the transfer to a migrant camp was without informing Karen’s Turk husband or in-laws.
This was reported in the Turkish-language Sozcu newspaper’s online edition Tuesday, Nov. 15. Karen’s whereabouts has not been reported since.
Reports indicate the events happened in Ankara, capital of Turkey, which last July 15 dawn was rocked by a military coup that swiftly was squelched by forces loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In the aftermath of the coup the Turkish government has jailed thousands of soldiers, journalists, academics and members of the so-called Gulen Movement.
Karen had no participation in the coup and had no intention of fleeing Turkey. Before her travails began, she was in fact working to prolong her stay there as a wife of six years, new mother, and university teacher.
Apart from saying that Karen formerly worked with a television network in Manila, sources could not ascertain if the expulsion has been carried out or if Karen is still held in camp.
Separating an infant from the mother for no cause is a humanitarian concern.
The Philippine embassy in Ankara would do well to search for Karen. So would the Commission on Overseas Filipinos, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration, Department of Labor and Employment, or whichever government agency has records of Karen.
Turkish legislators reportedly tried to prevent the separation of mother and child, to no avail.
Following is a translation of the Turkish news item, entitled, “Government is separating Baris from Burdur and Karen from Philippines”:
“Karen Lim from the Philippines and Baris Deyirmenci met in 2006 while working on a cruise in the USA. They fell in love and married in 2010. Last year they begot a child, Huma. Baris is a graduate of English Literature from Hacettepe University. While completing his masters, he works as consultant for the UNICEF’s aid for children. Karen is a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas (in Manila).
“Neither of them studied in any school related to the Hizmet Movement. Karen has been working in different schools in Turkey as an English teacher; lastly she was teaching at Turgut Ozal University.
“After the July 15 unsuccessful coup attempt, the Turkish government confiscated and shut down Turgut Ozal University. Karen applied to the Bureau of Immigration to convert her working permit from Commission on Higher Education-Turkey to resident permit.
“She was given an appointment on November 6 and same day she was informed that she poses a threat to the Turkish community and she will be extradited.
“Karen was held in police custody for six days and was informed she will be put on a plane on November 13.
“When a congressman, Mehmet Tum, from the opposition political party CHP learned about Karen, he went to the police station to avert the deportation. But Karen already was taken away to the hospital for check up. She was brought to the migrants’ camp without informing her family.
“Her baby was left at the police station.
“A member of CHP said later, ‘Punishing those responsible for the coup should not include separating one-year old Huma from her innocent mother. If needed, government formally could investigate Ms. Lim but not like this. By extraditing Karen Lim none of the problems in Turkey will be solved. But if you do so you will add one more problem to Turkey. Please end the agony of this family soonest and send Ms. Lim back to her baby.’
“Another congressman from CHP, Mr. Mehmet Goker, decried the case in Congress as well and said: ‘How can a Filipino citizen threaten the safety of Turkish society. Without any case against Ms. Lim how come she was extradited from Turkey? How do you justify a mother being separated from her 13-month-old baby without a case against her? What sort of suspicion might there be against a Filipino citizen who did not leave Turkey for four months after the failed coup and in fact was trying to extend her stay here in Turkey.’”