Turkish teacher dismissed after coup attempt dies by suicide

Recep Yaya, 35, a former teacher summarily dismissed from his job by an emergency decree after a coup attempt in July 2016, took his own life on November 25, a day after Turkey celebrated Teachers Day.

Yaya’s death was announced on Twitter by Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights advocate and deputy from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). “A dismissed teacher has died by suicide a day after Teachers Day,” said Gergerlioğlu. “His body was found today in a reservoir.”

Gergerlioğlu said he considered Yaya’s death the latest incident in a mass persecution.

Yaya went missing on November 25 in northeastern Bayburt province. His body was found in the city’s reservoir on Saturday. According to his acquaintances, Yaya had a court hearing two days before his disappearance. During the hearing Yaya had tense moments with the judge as he argued that he was “not a traitor.”

Yaya’s friend from university, Alp Eren, said on Twitter his friend could no longer bear the injustice he was being subjected to.

Following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions against its political opponents under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. In addition to firing more than 130,000 civil servants as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, the government also shut down 164 media organizations, 1,058 educational institutions and 1,769 NGOs with emergency decree-laws without any due process

Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs; they were also banned from working again in the public sector and getting a passport. The government made it difficult for them to work formally in the private sector, too. Notes were put on the social security database about dismissed public servants to deter potential employers.

According to a joint report by the Justice for Victims Platform and lawmaker Gergerlioğlu, the two-year-long state of emergency declared after the coup in Turkey caused immense suffering among public servants who were dismissed from their jobs by the government as well as their families.

The dismissed civil servants lost 70 percent of their average monthly income, a circumstance that reduced them to dire financial straits, according to a survey conducted for the report.

Although it is not certain how many former public servants have died by suicide, the most recent report published by Veli Ağbaba from the main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) said there were at least 46 known cases. Other sources say there are many as 100 cases of suicide among dismissed civil servants.

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