Recep Abdioğlu, a 53-year-old teacher, died in a Turkish prison in Trabzon province after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage on Thursday night.
Abdioğlo was jailed in March 2018 over his alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the movement.
According to a report by online news outlet Aktif Haber, Abdioğlu, a father of five, became unemployed after the closure of a private school by a government decree issued under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.
Abdioğlu’s death is the latest in a string of prison deaths in Turkey that have attracted suspicion since the abortive coup.
The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported in one of its studies titled “Suspicious Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in jails and detention centers, where torture and ill-treatment are being practiced. In the majority of cases, authorities concluded they were suicides without any effective, independent investigation.
Suspicious deaths have also taken place beyond prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before their detention. SCF has compiled 119 cases of suspicious deaths and suicides in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.