Jailed academic not allowed to attend wife’s funeral

Academic Namık Kemal Karabiber, who is serving a prison sentence that he will complete in 17 days, was not allowed to attend his wife’s funeral, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Karabiber’s wife, former teacher Ayla Karabiber, 48, died of a brain tumor on Friday in an İstanbul hospital.

Karabiber, who is currently incarcerated in Turkey’s southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, requested permission to attend his wife’s funeral but was denied by the prison administration due to security concerns and the lack of security personnel following a deadly earthquake in southeastern Turkey.

Turkey’s most powerful earthquake in almost 100 years struck near the city of Gaziantep, which is home to around 2 million people and on the border with Syria, on February 6, killing more than 35,000 people in Turkey and neighboring Syria as of Tuesday.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which hit as people were still sleeping, was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue operations the same day.

Ayla Karabiber’s funeral was held on Saturday in the southeastern province of Adıyaman, one of the provinces hardest hit by the earthquake.

Namık Kemal Karabiber was an academic at Şanlıurfa’s Harran University. He was dismissed from his job by an emergency decree as part of a purge of state institutions following an attempted coup in 2016 and later arrested due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, 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. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following the 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 abortive putsch, 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 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.

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