Turkish gov’t denies funeral service to teacher who sought asylum in Greece

The Turkish government has denied a funeral service to Halil Dinç, a veteran teacher who died of a heart attack in Greece, where he was seeking asylum because of widespread persecution in Turkey carried out by the Justice and Development Party ( AKP) government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Vakfıkebir’s mufti Hüseyin Köksal

Prominent human rights activist and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu tweeted on Saturday that Dinç was denied a funeral service back in his hometown. “The mufti [Hüseyin Köksal] in Vakfikebir (a district of Trabzon province) refused to assign an imam for Dinç’s funeral and did not allow sala [Salat al-janazah] to be recited,” Gergerlioğlu said.

The 45-year-old educator passed away following a heart attack in Greece. A funding campaign was launched in solidarity with his wife and three children after the family crossed Turkish-Greek border some 25 days ago.

“All the hardship he endured for two years were too much for his heart. He passed away after suffering a heart attack in Athens. He left behind a widow, three kids and thousands of students. Not only did he leave behind his kids as orphans, but also his students as well,” said the statement for the campaign.

The statement continued to say: “45 years old Dr. Halil Dinç loved his job, excelled at it and was a very hard working teacher. His school was shut down after July 15, 2016 (bizarre) coup attempt. His license to work was revoked. He was forced into poverty and hardship. Similar to thousands of other teachers, he also faced an investigation. For this reason, he had to live away from his family for two years. Even when he was sought for arrest, he had made efforts to help families of his colleagues facing similar pressure and legal challenges. 

“Dr. Halil Dinc was born in Trabzon’s Vakfikebir district in 1972. He started working as a teacher at Van Private Serhat High School after graduating from Turkish Language and Literature at Ankara’s Gazi University. After working as a teacher in Sivas, Sinop, and Samsun provinces, he had been working in Ankara since 2007. Finally, he was the principal at Samanyolu Cemal Sasmaz Science High School between 2012 and 2016. 

In addition to his career as a teacher, he also pursued his academic work and completed his doctorate at Gazi University on Early History of Turkish Literature. Halil Dinç was also leading a team that produced world champions. His students’ secured world championship title with “Overcome Borders” movie at International Infomatix Short Movie Contest. Then-Prime Minister Erdoğan himself handed out the awards to Dinç’s students Afet Keskin and Nihal Özgür.”

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the AKP government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others. On Feb 13, 2018, at least three people died and five others were missing after a boat carrying a group of eight capsized in the Evros River while seeking to escape a post-coup crackdown in Turkey.

The crackdown on critical thinking in Turkey with an unprecedented witch hunt targeting teachers, academics and other professionals in the education sector has dealt a huge blow to free thought in Turkey, according to a report released by SCF.

The government of President Erdoğan has jailed some 20,000 instructors and arbitrarily fired 34,185 public school teachers and 5,719 academics including professors from state universities within the last two years alone. They were branded as “terrorists” and “coup plotters” without any effective administrative or judicial probe and as such marked for life.

The government shut down 1,069 privately run schools, most of which were the nation’s best performing science schools and were affiliated with the Gülen movement, and closed down 15 universities that were run by privately held foundations. As a result, 2,465 academics and 54,350 teachers instantly became unemployed. With the support staff who worked in these schools, the total number of people who lost their jobs reached 65,214. The government also canceled the licenses of 22,474 teachers, making it impossible for them to continue working as teachers in other institutions.

In total, 96,719 teachers and academics were purged from Turkey’s public and private educational institutions. This number does not include the support staff that was hired to run schools and universities in administrative and other capacities.

Most of the shuttered institutions were transformed into religious schools that are designed to raise a new generation of Islamist supporters for Erdoğan’s AKP.

When all the closed institutions are taken into account, the total loss in value including fixed property and land is around $100 billion, one source estimates. The crackdown included foreign students who came to Turkey for study or Turkish students who were sent abroad on government scholarships.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since the coup attempt in July 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 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. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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