Recep Karaşal, a former first lieutenant who was dismissed from the gendarmerie in 2018 by a government decree, was seriously injured in a fire at his place of work.
According to his wife, Hacer Karaşal, who shared details of the incident on Twitter, Karaşal had started work as a welder and was burned in a fire after an explosion. “My husband tried to help his coworkers get away from the fire,” she said. “He was badly burned in the process.”
Karaşal is currently in intensive care and was put in an artificial coma due to excruciating pain. Hacer Karaşal said her husband’s employer called her after the accident and threatened her not to file a complaint. “He told me if I filed a complaint my husband would end up in prison again,” she said.
Karaşal had served nine months in prison for alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the movement 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 following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch 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 20,610 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 cases where former public servants have died in occupational accidents. In March Mustafa Çamaş, a dismissed bioengineering professor, died at a construction site after a crane fell on him.
A total of 292,000 people have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup, according to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on November 26. There are currently 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed due to links to the faith-based movement, the minister said.