Bursa Mayor Alinur Aktaş, who was appointed by Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to replace the elected mayor, has refused to provide a hearse to transport the bodies of three people, including two infants, who perished when a boat capsized in the Aegean Sea on Sunday, according to pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.
The three were part of a group fleeing persecution in Turkey for alleged links to the Gülen movement.
After Gergerlioğlu’s tweet exposing the mayor’s behavior had gone viral on the Internet, the Bursa Metropolitan Municipality issued a press statement denying the deputy’s allegation and claiming that the families of the victims had decided to transport the bodies in their own cars to their hometowns of Sinop and Amasya.
The three bodies were brought to the Bursa city hospital by the coast guard after they were recovered from the Aegean Sea.
“The three refugees at the forensic science hospital, identified as Gökhan Yeni, Burhan Yeni and Nurbanu Yeni, were denied funeral vehicle. I phoned up to the funeral director who told me that Bursa mayor said: ‘No vehicle to be assigned for FETO members’,” Gergerlioglu tweeted. “This is a scandal and a disgrace. This is inhumane..!” he added.
“The words of [the official who was responsible for funerals] are in our records. They are well known by me and the families. You don’t have to backpedal after the public reaction,” Gergerlioğlu tweeted in response to the municipality’s statement.
Gergerlioğlu said municipal officials only called the families in response to reactions on social media, while they were already on their way.
The boat that capsized was carrying 16 people, six of whom, including three children, drowned, while one is missing and nine were rescued.
According to the Diken news website, four of the survivors were arrested on Monday over alleged Gülen links.
Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive post-coup witch-hunt carried out by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Many have tried to flee Turkey via illegal means as the government had cancelled the passports of thousands of people.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since the coup attempt in July 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.
“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organisation,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.
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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)