Turkish purge victim, rights activist loses battle against cancer

Haluk Savas

Haluk Savaş, 54, a leading human rights activist and a victim of a large-scale post-coup purge in Turkey, lost his battle against cancer on Tuesday, according to his wife.

“I’ve lost my angel-hearted husband who had been trying to help everyone,” Esen Savaş, a psychotherapist, tweeted.

Savaş was a psychiatry professor at Gaziantep University until he was fired by a government decree in 2016 following a coup attempt.

He was later arrested over alleged links to the Gülen movement, which is accused of orchestrating the failed coup despite its strong denial of any involvement.

In November 2016 he was released pending trial due to a cancer diagnosis, and after one year of treatment he was cured. However, the cancer returned in early 2019.

For months he struggled to obtain a passport, despite later being acquitted by a court, to travel abroad in search of a treatment for the cancer.

He was finally allowed to travel overseas last May, but the treatment produced no positive results.

Savaş was a dedicated and vocal advocate of other victims of Turkey’s purge and established a YouTube channel called KHK TV as well as several local platforms to amplify the voices of the victims.

Figures from nearly all walks of life in Turkey offered their condolences on social media.

“The government even tried to prevent him from getting treatment, but he didn’t give in and boosted our morale,” Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of parliament from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), tweeted.

“A brilliant man of science died today,” Meral Danış Beştaş, HDP group deputy chairman, said in a tweet.

Deputies from other opposition parties, former politicians and human rights activists also reacted in sorrow to Savaş’s death.


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