Son of police officer sacked for alleged Gülen links dies by suicide

Mehmet Reşat Erçakır, whose police officer father was dismissed by an emergency decree for alleged links to the Gülen movement, died by suicide on Saturday. 

Erçakır’s death was made public on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the Green Left Party (YSP) and a prominent human rights advocate. Addressing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Gergerlioğlu said the government’s cruelty had taken another life. 

“The young man spent the last years of his life questioning why his father had been fired despite his innocence,” said Gergerlioğlu. “He sought psychological counselling, but unfortunately it did not help.” 

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.

More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces 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.

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.

After his dismissal, Erçakır’s father, Ahmet Erçakır, took temporary jobs such as selling milk, and like many families in their situation, the family experienced financial problems.

These problems have taken their toll, and according to a recent report, between October 2016 and October 2022 a total of 78 purge victims or their family members have died by suicide.

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