Former nurse who died by suicide after being dismissed in post-coup purge reinstated after 5 years

A former nurse who died by suicide after being fired in a wide-ranging purge in the aftermath of a July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey has been reinstated to her job.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu shared documents on Twitter from the Ministry of Health and the Isparta Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office that said there were no grounds for legal action against former nurse Sevgi Balcı.

“Sevgi Balcı was a nurse and mother of three — the youngest being only eight months old — but she suffered from a deep depression after her dismissal,” he said. “One day she hanged herself, and now she has been reinstated. But can the authorities turn back time?”

Ahmet Oktay from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) also said on social media that Balcı was the victim of a great injustice. “For years authorities have acted as if everyone is a potential criminal. They have deeply divided this society and created a skewed judicial system,” he said.

Balcı was dismissed from her job on August 4, 2016 along with her husband, who worked for the Ministry of Health. She was eight months pregnant at the time of her dismissal. The Balcı family was living in ministry housing and were evicted shortly after Balcı gave birth.

Balcı’s psychological health deteriorated dramatically, and she suffered from major depression. On August 27, 2016, she took her own life after a doctor’s visit.

Speaking to local media, Halil Ibrahim Balcı said they were dismissed after the hospital they worked for sent the names of employees they thought could be linked to Gülen movement to the district governor’s office. There had been no formal investigation or evidence before their dismissal linking them to the movement.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched a war against the Gülen movement, a worldwide civic initiative inspired by the ideas of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, after the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013 that implicated then-prime minister and current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family members and inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy, the AKP government designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. The government intensified the crackdown following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that they accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

At least 100 former public servants in Turkey have died by suicide as a result of the post-coup purge since 2016.

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.

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