Another purge victim dies by suicide in March

Mesut Karaboyun, 32, a former noncommissioned officer in the gendarmerie who was dismissed by an emergency decree as part of Turkey’s post-coup purge of state institutions, died by suicide on Sunday, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Karaboyun died in Germany, where he had fled in June 2019 for a safer life. After a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, Karaboyun was arrested and sent to a prison in Izmir province, where he was held for 20 months.

During his incarceration Karaboyun started using antidepressants as he could not accept being in prison and believed he was a victim of injustice. After his release, Karaboyun decided to leave Turkey and sought asylum in Germany, where he continued using antidepressants.

Although he learned German and English and had plans to continue his studies, Karaboyun still could not accept being dismissed from the gendarmerie. One of his friends said Karaboyun was using a high dose of antidepressants due to the hurdles he had experienced in Turkey.

Karaboyun will be laid to rest in his hometown in Turkey’s Giresun province.

Suicide is becoming worryingly common among purge victims. In early March a former sergeant took his own life in Ankara. A week before Ahmet Olgun, a former police officer, died after setting himself on fire in Turkey’s northern province of Ordu. “I’m not a traitor,” he said in a suicide note.

A total of 84 people in Turkey have died by suicide as a result of the post-coup purge since 2016, according to data released by the Brussels-based human rights monitor Solidarity with OTHERS.

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 29,444 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.

The government also shut down 164 media organizations, 1,058 educational institutions and 1,769 NGOs.

Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs; they were also prohibited 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.

According to a joint report by the Justice for Victims Platform and Gergerlioğlu, the two-year-long state of emergency declared after the failed putsch caused immense suffering among public servants who were dismissed from their jobs by the government as well as their families.

The biggest problem they have been facing is economic hardship (97.9 percent) followed by psychological problems (88.6 percent), loss of social prestige and social exclusion (83.7 percent), the disintegration of social circles (83.1 percent), unemployment/lack of employment (80.4 percent) and lack of social security (73.2 percent).

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