Turkish teacher jailed over Gülen links dies in prison due to lack of medication

Halime Gülsu

Halime Gülsu, who was arrested on Feb. 20, 2018 for allegedly helping the faith-based Gülen movement, died on Saturday in prison in Mersin province, reportedly due to deprivation of the medication she took for lupus erythematosus.

According to a report by online news outlet Kronos, Gülsu was not given her medication during 15 days of detention and afterwards in a Tarsus Prison cell that she shared with 21 people. Her health report was lost by prison officials. Due to health problems she was taken to Mersin City Hospital on April 25. But she was sent back to prison, where she went into a coma and died. Prison officials did not act despite calls for help from her cellmates, Kronos reported.

Her brother Zübeyir Gülsu shared photos of her coffin and death report on social media, vowing to go after all responsible in court.

Halime Gülsu was among a group of women who were detained for organizing aid activities for the families of people dismissed from their civil service jobs following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Several Twitter accounts and media outlets in February reported torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of officers at the Mersin police station.

Ana Gomes, a socialist member of the European Parliament, on Saturday tweeted about Gülsu’s death: “RIP! Terribly sad. Murdered by Erdogan’s dictatorship in #Turkey!”

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, one of Turkey’s most renowned human rights activists and former president of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (Mazlumder), on Saturday addressed Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül and his ministry on Twitter: “She could not endure… Passed away. What a shame! Who will pay for it? We cried out and warned. What kind of country is this? Thousands of patients, children and mothers in prison?”

According to Turkey Purge 28 individuals, among whom are police officers, prosecutors and teachers, had been found dead as of April 2017 in Turkish prisons since the failed coup attempt in 2016, causing serious concern about the fate of thousands of civilians who have been kept in jail in poor conditions across the country.

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 112 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 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 turkishminute.com)

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