Nursel Ekici, 48, a former teacher who was fired by an emergency decree as part of Turkey’s post-coup purge of state institutions, died of cancer on Thursday without being able to see her imprisoned husband, the Kronos news website reported.
Her husband Mustafa, another purge victim and former teacher, was jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement. He has not been released from prison despite the fact that he has been eligible for parole since March 8.
According to Kronos, Nursel Ekici recently suffered a stroke due to anxiety caused by her husband’s situation.
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 an abortive putsch that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Following the coup attempt, 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 civil 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.
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.
According to a joint report authored by the Justice for Victims Platform Human and rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, the biggest problem the purge victims and their families have been facing is economic hardship (97.9 percent) followed by psychological problems (88.6 percent), loss of social prestige and social exclusion (83.7 percent), the disintegration of social circles (83.1 percent), unemployment/lack of employment (80.4 percent) and a lack of social security benefits (73.2 percent).