Jailed Turkish jurist’s daughter says ostracized by professors, classmates before father’s death

Buket Erdoğan, the daughter of recently deceased ex-judge Mustafa Erdoğan, former member of the Turkish Supreme Court of Cassation, said her lecturers and classmates would pretend not to see her at university until her father passed away last week.

Imprisoned as part of a post-coup crackdown conducted by the government, Erdoğan died in critical care shortly after being released from prison under judicial supervision on August 22. His family members earlier said medical reports showing the seriousness of his condition were ignored and that appeals for his release were rejected.

“Even my best friends stopped talking to me, thinking that they would be harmed. My professors at the school [Ankara University’s faculty of law] who I used to get along with ignored me. No one except some of my father’s brave friends dared call us. My social circle completely changed up until my father passed away,” Buket Erdoğan told the Grihat online news platform.

Speaking of the unlawfulness and maltreatment to his father ex-judge of the Panel Department No. 23 of the Court of Cassation Mustafa Erdoğan, who was dismissed by government decree and later jailed over his alleged links to Gülen movement, Buket Erdoğan told that his father did not get a proper medical treatment and kept in the prison despite the fact that eighty three percent of his body was paralyzed and he received a diagnosis of advanced cancer.

Buket Erdoğan said that my father paid a heavy price on the basis of not feeling hesitate to have the courage of his convictions. “My father was on the side of goodness even though he was not very strong. That is why he strongly criticized the legislative regulation [aiming eventually to enable the legislative power to fall under influence of Turkey’s autocrtaic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan]. In response to this act, they robbed him of his most basic rights, eventually costing to his life,” said Buket Erdoğan.

Pointing out that the unlawfulness that they have suffered from is an outcome of the polarization of the legal system in Turkey, Buket Erdoğan has also stated that “I noticed polarization for the first time when I was living in a lodging building. Some of those judges and public prosecutors kept their children out of from other families’ children.”

In fact, she emphasized that those families decided to change their children’s schools within the intention of preventing their children to engage with others. “In the meantime, I was only 18 years old and could not figure out what was happening, however, now I understand what is the politization of the legal system,” said Buket Erdoğan.

After his father was deprived from coming in contact with his children, she tried to get reach to people in social media and make herself heard. “I recognized that even my closest friends stopped talking to me with the worry of getting hurt. Apart from a couple of friends of my father, all people who are around us sent us to coventry. Even those people from my Ankara University’s Faculty of Law, did the same thing. After my father lost his life, however, my university staff and friends started to talk with me again. Did I have to lose my father to speak with them first?”

She told that they had already applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), but they lost him while waiting for the final decision.

Remarking the last words of his father just before slipping into the coma, Buket Erdoğan has stated that “We moved to a house with large windows so that he could watch the sky comfortably, but it did not happen. Just before going to the coma, he held my mother’s hand and told, ‘Do you need anything? I love you so much. I did not do anything to upset you. Open a big law office to Buket.” In reply to my father’s words, my mother said that “We are going to set up this law office, and you are going to be fine.” But my father reworded, “Open big law office to Buket.”

Before losing his consciousness and a few years later losing his life, the father Erdoğan wrote his daughter a note because of not being able to see her. In this note, the father wrote her daughter, “Never give up Buket! Never give up! Justice will prevail one day.” Justice did not prevail for us. Sometimes I see my mother crying when she was hugging my father’s judge’s robes. We are sad, but also very proud,” said Buket Erdoğan.

Mustafa Erdoğan died in the intensive care unit of a hospital days after being released from jail. The medical reports showing the seriousness of his situation were ignored and the appeals for his release were rejected. His daughter had earlier said that “My father is fighting for his life in a cell. He is getting infections in the prison.”

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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