Former imam who was a victim of post-coup purge succumbs to cancer

Hasan Akdemir, a former imam who in 2017 was fired from Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) in a government purge of supposed “terrorists” following an attempted coup, died of cancer last week, the Kronos news website reported.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu announced the news on Twitter, saying: “Another death of a purge victim! Imam Hasan Akdemir, who was purged from the Diyanet in 2017 by Decree No. 679, has died as a result of the cancer he developed while in prison.”

 

Akdemir’s funeral took place in Ankara on Friday.

Following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016, 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 civil servants 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 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 biggest problem the purge victims and their families 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 a lack of social security benefits (73.2 percent).

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