While trying to escape from Turkey to Mytilene Island of Greece, a family with three children, who disappeared in the Aegean Sea, were found dead. The story of the drowning family with their children is like a summary of the oppression against the Gülen movement in Turkey.
Hüseyin Maden is a 40 years old physics teacher, and his wife, Nur Maden, was a 36-year-old preschool teacher. They were living together with their two daughters named Nadire (13), Bahar (10) and a son named Feridun (7) in Turkey’s Kastamonu province.
According to a report by online news outlet Aktif Haber on Tuesday, Hüseyin Maden was expelled from his profession with a decree law (KHK) issued after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Afterwards, an investigation was started on charges of “an alleged link with a terrorist organization” about Hüseyin and Nur Maden. Maden family decided to hide all the family members from the police on the basis of fearing that their children would be left alone if they would be detained and put in jail.
Police raids were repeatedly filed against the family house, but they were hiding in another place for about a year. At that time, Hüseyin Maden started to work for TL 1,000 ($250) monthly in a job that requires physical strength as an uninsured person and he was trying to make a living for his family.
However, as the police tackle became more and more tightened over all the members of the Gülen movement all over the country, they decided to go abroad with the last money left in their pocket. Because their all assets were confiscated by Turkish government, they had lost most of their savings. According to the information given by their relatives, Hüseyin Maden contacted many smugglers at that time. But for a family of five people, there was no way to meet the desired amount of money.
On top of that, he bought an old boat, borrowing some money from his friends over the last penny left. He decided to take his family to Greece’s Mytilene Island and seek refuge. He would steer the boat with the information he received from the people who he bought the boat.
One of Hüseyin Maden’s friends talked about the last hours they saw each other; “We chatted until the morning prayer. Then we prayed together. He woke me up in the morning. He told me that his jeans and shirt on top took a second hand for a total of TL 10. ‘I have no plans but I have no other choice. No acquaintance. We are going towards an unknown,’ he said. I asked how much you have. ‘TL 5-6 thousand I have, but Allah is Great,’ he replied. I do not cry that much, but a few drops from my eyes fell. He wanted me to give my blessings. We said our goodbyes.”
Then, he set out with his family towards the woeful waters of the Aegean Sea. All that is known about the post is his sms message to his family: “We see the lights, we go out to the island.”
It was about 20 days past this message. Their parents tried to relieve themselves, thinking that they were caught by the Greek police in Mytilini Island and were in refugee camps. The phones did not answer. But Greek authorities found three children’s bodies on shores of the Island of Lesbos. Two girls and a boy had drowned. The information provided by the Greek police was in keeping with the information of the Maden family. There was no sign of the family in the refugee camps.
It is stated that the bodies of the children were buried immediately after taking the DNA samples because they were affected by seawater. The relatives of Maden family are still trying out going to Greece, but they are not able to pass the visa barrier.
Hüseyin Maden was a successful physics teacher. The details of the Science Fairs carried out together with the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) are still standing on the website of the Ministry of National Education. The subject of the official site is announced as follows: “TÜBİTAK 4006 Science Fair, conducted by Hüseyin Maden, our Physics Teacher, was done on 22-23 May 2015 as a result of their self-sacrificing works.”
According to the information given by Hüseyin Maden’s friends, he was struggling with severe health problems, even though he was only 40 years old. He undergone surgery on his kidney, liver and spleen. As a result of that, many people were worried about his health if he was arrested and put behind the bars as tens of thousands of Gülen movement affiliated people.
His wife was also facing the threat of going to jail. It was not acceptable for the children to be separated from both of their mother and father. After Hüseyin Maden was dismissed and his assets were confiscated, his economic conditions have also been going to be very bad. Under these conditions it was not possible for her children to receive education. Moreover, the family was hiding. For all these reasons, the family took risks, condemned to social death in Turkey, and tried to flee to Greece.
Many people tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as Turkish government cancelled their passports like thousands of others.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempton July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic 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, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.