Plight of former judge who died seeking asylum in Germany reveals extent of Turkey’s purge

Gülsüm Coşar, 31, a former judge who was summarily dismissed from her job by a government decree in the aftermath of a 2016 coup in Turkey, died in Germany yesterday, where she had fled with her 5-year-old son, the TR724 news website reported.

Coşar fell seriously ill several days ago due to a heart condition and was admitted to an intensive care unit. Turkish Twitter users shared her story to raise awareness about the suffering of purge victims.

Coşar was sentenced to seven years, six months in prison on terrorism charges for alleged links to the Gülen movement. Her husband, a former prosecutor, was handed down nine years, two months on similar charges. He is currently in a prison in southeastern Gaziantep province.

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. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding.

Thousands of people had to flee Turkey in the aftermath of the coup attempt due to a widespread crackdown on non-loyalist citizens under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. These people, some of whom had to flee the country illegally by way of the Aegean Sea or the land border because their passports had been canceled under state of emergency measures taken by the government, have applied for asylum in Europe.

According to official data, 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup.

The government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt.

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