Turkish family pretends for children it was a ‘game’ as they flee to Greece

A Turkish family that was victimized by a government purge of the Gülen movement following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 has fled to Greece in an inflatable boat, telling their children it was a “game,” Euronews reported on Tuesday.

The story of a family who escaped from Turkey under the pressures in the rule of emergency (OHAL) and took refuge in Greece was broadcasted on the Euronews channel. In the news, the story of the family while escaping from Turkey to Greece was expressed and the fact that so far 300 families have applied for asylum in Greece was shared.

Michalis Arampatzoglou from Euronews prepared the story of the family which is so close to Hüseyin Maden and his family, who drowned in the Aegean Sea recently while escaping from the Mytilene Islands to Greece. Arampatzoglou, who had an interview with the family, said that Tahsin, a 46-year-old, served as Deputy Director of Orphans in the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs before the coup attempt.

Stating that after the coup attempt, Tahsin was dismissed from this profession with a decree because he had alleged links to Gülen movement, Arampatzoglou said “an arrest warrant has been issued for Tahsin. Also bank accounts and passports were seized. Meanwhile, his two brothers were also sentenced to prison over their alleged affiliation to the Gülen movement. After all these things, Tahsin and his wife, Meryem, decided to flee to Greece”.

According to the report, Tahsin and his family recently fled Turkey in an inflatable boat after paying traffickers who helped them cross Turkish-Greek border.

To make the long journey to Greece easier for his 5-year-old daughter Rana, in particular, Tahsin made her believe they were playing a game.

“We will play a three-part game. If we complete it, they will give us a prize,” he explained to his daughter, according to Euronews.

The first step in Tahsin’s game was to cross the Evros River in a plastic boat and walk 20 kilometers to a Greek village. “I told her that we needed to walk a long way, pass by swamps, but we must not talk at all,” he told Euronews.

Then when they arrived in Greece, Tahsin told Rana they must surrender themselves to the police and stay in jail for a couple of days where she had to obey every order. If she didn’t complain, then she would win a “prize,” he said.

Finally, the last step would be to go to Athens and live with people who did not speak Turkish but that “if she learned the language, started school and spoke Greek with the teacher, they would be able to go back to their home in Ankara one day.”

Meryem, Tahsin’s wife, said the “game” helped her youngest daughter walk all the way to Greece. And even when she tried to carry her, Rana would say: “Please let me down mommy. I want to win the game.” While telling the journey Meryem burst into tears.

Tahsin, saying that Hüseyin Maden and his family who drowned in the Aegean Sea were his close family friend, continued that “although the situation of Hussein Maden was clear here, we could not say it to their family. Because they still had hope. They are waiting for the results of the DNA tests.”

It estimated that around 300 families and up to 2,000 individuals accused by the Turkish government of being “Gülenists” have fled to Greece.

Most of them have applied for asylum but have to wait at least three years before they receive an answer.

On Nov. 21 a Turkish family of five attempting to flee persecution in Turkey drowned in the Aegean Sea near the Greek island of Lesvos.

Michalis Arampatzoglou, who broadcast the family’s drama, told the following story: “Tahsin’s family was lucky. After a dangerous journey he managed to get to Greece at least. Hüseyin Maden was a close friend of Tahsin. The journey of Maden family ended with tragedy for them. It was stated that Hüseyin Maden and his family, who decided to escape to Greece, were issued an arrest warrant on the ground of that he was a member of the Gülen movement, purchased an old wooden sandal to cross the Aegean Sea and drowned in the Aegean Sea. Tahsin says that his childhood friend Hüseyin’s family in Kastamonu still cannot believe they died.”

According to information collected by Aktif Haber, detention warrants were outstanding for Hüseyin Maden (40), his wife Nur Maden (36). Both were teachers who were sacked from their jobs following a failed coup last year over alleged links to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of being behind the coup attempt. The couple and their children Nadire Maden (13), Bahar Maden (10) and Feridun Maden (7) drowned as they fled from the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regime’s persecution targeting members of the Gülen movement.

The sources told Aktif Haber that relatives of the Maden family in Turkey’s Samsun province had not heard from them for several days, leading to speculation that the bodies found by Greek authorities might belong to the five members of the Maden family.

Greek authorities delivered identity cards found on the bodies to Turkish police to see whether they belonged to members of the Maden family.

It was reported on Nov. 11 in the Greek media that authorities had discovered three dead children within the space of a few days on the northeast coast of Lesvos, baffling local port authorities, who launched an investigation.

Many people have tried to flee Turkey illegally as the Turkish government cancelled their passports.

Meanwhile, Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to demand the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers who allegedly took part in a failed coup last year and fled to Greece to seek asylum during a two-day visit to Greece starting on Thursday.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, Erdoğan will have talks with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens. He is expected to raise the extradition of eight soldiers who sought asylum in Greece after fleeing to Alexandroupoli in a Black Hawk army helicopter.

Meanwhile, ahead of Erdoğan’s visit Tsipras said that “coup plotters are not welcome in Greece.”

“My stance on the issue has always been clear. Coup plotters are not welcome in Greece. We are continuing our cooperation with Turkey in terms of security and the judiciary,” Tsipras told Anadolu.

Greece’s Supreme Court on Jan. 26 ruled against an extradition request by Ankara, stating that the men would not get a fair trial in Turkey and that their lives would be at risk if they returned.

Meanwhile, a Greek court on Dec. 4 ordered the arrest of nine Turkish citizens pending trial for terrorism-related offenses, including links to an outlawed militant group behind a series of suicide bombings in Turkey.

“I believe that the first visit by a Turkish president after decades will offer an important opportunity to take bold steps toward the future,” Tsipras said.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip 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, 2016. 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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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