Turkish teacher dismissed from job over alleged links to Gülen movement commits suicide

Thirty-eight-year-old teacher Mehmet Koşar, who was dismissed from his job by a government decree issued under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 over alleged links to the Gülen movement, reportedly committed suicide on March 9, 2018 in Muğla province.

According to a post by Mağdur Mesajları, a Twitter account (@magdurmesajı) that focuses on victimisation and suffering caused by the persecution that is part of a massive post-coup witch hunt under the state of emergency in Turkey, Koşar and his wife were teachers. However, both of them were dismissed from their jobs over their alleged links to the movement.

Koşar, who had been a computer teacher at a public school in the Seydikemer neighbourhood of Fethiye in Muğla province, could not bear the psychological burden of being fired and being considered “the other” by society and as a result committed suicide. Koşar was reportedly buried in the Karadere Cemetery in Seydikemer after a funeral ceremony. He has two children.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported in one of its studies titled “Suspicious Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in jails and detention centers, where torture and ill-treatment are being practiced. In the majority of cases, authorities concluded they were suicides without any effective, independent investigation.

Suspicious deaths have also taken place beyond prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before their detention. SCF has compiled 107 cases of suspicious deaths and suicides in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format.

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 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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