Former public servant believed to have died in work-related accident

A former public servant who was fired by a government decree after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 is believed to have died in a work-related accident, the Kronos news website reported.

Zübeyr Topal, 41, who started working as a truck driver after his dismissal from the civil service, was involved in a traffic accident on Tuesday in northeastern Artvin province. The father of two was on his way to Ardahan when his truck plunged into the Çoruh River. Rescue teams have been searching for his body since the accident to no avail. 

According to the search teams, Topal’s body most likely drifted downriver. 

Topal’s place of employment before his dismissal was not disclosed to the media.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government declared a state of emergency (OHAL) following the abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that remained in effect until July 19, 2018. During the state of emergency the AKP carried out a purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight by issuing a number of government decrees, known as KHKs, firing 130,000 civil servants from their jobs due to their real or alleged connections to “terrorist organizations.”

Turkey’s 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.

Therefore, many purge victims have had to work in uninsured jobs with very little workplace safety. There have also been cases where former public servants have died due to occupational accidents in physically demanding jobs.

Former public servants, such as judges and military officers, have taken to social media to reveal they were working in neighborhood street markets and at construction sites.

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