Two members of the Karahanlı family were killed in a traffic accident on Monday while driving to Turkey’s central province of Kırıkkale to visit Uğur Karahanlı, who was jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist” activities, the Bold Medya news website reported.
Uğur Karahanlı’s father and mother died shortly before first responders arrived on the scene, while his wife was seriously injured in the accident.
According to local reports, Karahanlı, a former teacher who was dismissed by a government decree as part of purges that followed a July 15, 2016 coup attempt, was in 2021 sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison on conviction of alleged links to the movement.
Karahanlı had previously been jailed in a prison in southern Hatay province, one of the areas hardest hit by two powerful earthquakes in early February, after which he was transferred to the prison in central Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement after the abortive putsch in 2016, which he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Following the failed coup, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.
More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.
Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs; they were also banned from working again in the public sector and getting a passport. The government also made it difficult for them to work formally in the private sector. Notes were put on the social security database about dismissed public servants to deter potential employers, leading them to work in unskilled jobs with little workplace safety. There have been a number of cases in which former public servants died in occupational accidents.