Turkish mother reveals the effects of government’s post-coup purge on their family

A Turkish mother revealed on a YouTube channel that her child did not recognize his father, who had been jailed for alleged links to the Gülen movement, upon his release, the Tr724 news website reported.

Speaking on a YouTube channel dedicated to Turkish purge victims, medical doctor Ayça Güler said her husband had been arrested when their son was three years old.  When Osman Kadir Güler was released pending trial, their son had stopped calling him “Dad.”

“He [my son] started calling his father by his name [Osman], and was very timid around him,” she said. “It was really heartbreaking.”

The Güler family is only one among thousands of families that were affected by the Turkish government’s crackdown on the Gülen movement after a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. 

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 in 2016 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, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 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.

While her husband was still in jail, Güler was briefly detained and released under judicial supervision. “I had to visit the local police station twice a month, and I was summarily dismissed from my job [at a public hospital],” she explained. 

After her husband’s release, Güler decided they should leave Turkey in search of a safer life. The family fled to Sweden, where they currently reside as political asylum seekers. 

Scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown. In Germany alone, 62,000 Turkish citizens lodged asylum applications last year, making people holding a Turkish passport the second largest group seeking asylum in the country.

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