Purged nurse succumbs to cancer

Zeynep Baltacı

Mother of two and former nurse Zeynep Baltacı, 34, who was fired by an emergency decree as part of Turkey’s post-coup purge of state institutions, died of cancer in Turkey’s southern province of Adana, the Kronos news website reported.

Following a failed coup on July 15, 2016, 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.

Baltacı was sentenced to seven years in prison after July 2016 and served six months for alleged links to the Gülen movement. She was conditionally released when she filed an appeal with Turkey’s top appellate court.

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.

Speaking to Kronos, a family member said, “After she was fired, she worked at various jobs, including heavy industrial jobs. Her only concern was her children; she was very afraid of what would happen to them if she were arrested. She lived an incredibly stressful and difficult life after she was dismissed.”

Baltacı was buried in Diyarbakır on Thursday.

Turkey’s former public servants were not only fired from their jobs after the attempted coup in 2016; 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 by the Justice for Victims Platform and Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, an MP from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a prominent defender of human rights, the two-year-long state of emergency declared after the failed putsch caused immense suffering among public servants who were dismissed from their jobs by the government as well as their families.

The biggest problem they 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 lack of social security (73.2 percent).

Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!