I am a lawyer who had to flee Turkey after the infamous coup attempt and Erdogan regime’s purge on media, academics and civil society . I am man of law but according to President Erdogan I am a “terrorist” who attempted for a coup!
I am writing this letter from a city in Eastern Europe as I had to run away from persecution. Just after my departure on 22 July, Turkish police arrived at my house but could not find me. Instead, with the intention to bring me out they have decided to detain my mother who is 86 years old and can barely walk. But how come a country came to this point? Let me briefly tell my story.
While I was working as a lawyer in 2007 at my home town Antakya, a Turkish city at the border of Syria, I have established a charity (Altin Insan) with my local friends to help the needy people. With the donations we have raised the charity was able to provide scholarship for the poor children, food and accommodation for those in need and organise social and sportive activities. We were also helping the Syrian refugees during last 4 years and feeling well self-satisfied with dignity as I was part of an action which promoted sharing, helping and making the life better for the others.
Beside this altruistic work, I was also an activist in my professional field and have pursuing to advocate for a new and civic constitution with my lawyer friends through an NGO called “Denge Law and Thought”. We had written a framework on the constitution and presented to the president of Turkish Grand National Assembly. Meanwhile in the local level we have promoted the women and children rights through seminars ,school visits and others activities to create awareness on fundamental rights and liberties, and providing guidance to the public how they can defend their basic rights. Off course, I should not forget to mention the newspaper IRADE (The Willpower) which was born and grown up in our hands to provide local and independent news to the people of Antakya.
The life was beautiful until mid 2012 as the symptoms of authoritarianism showed its cold face during the Gezi Park protest. And it became like a hell especially right after the corruption scandal in December 2013. Since then, during last two and half years “You are either from us or against us” mentality surrounded the country. We have appalled that newspapers and TV stations confiscated by the police force in Turkey and just because people affiliated with Gulen Movement their schools, social enterprises and businesses were subject to a “witch hunt” by Erdogan’s government. The donations for the humanitarian work were counted as “supporting the terrorism” and confiscating the property of Gulen Movement supporters were right thing to dry up the financial sources of “terrorist organization” and the media outlets must be taken over by force or closed down for the reason of so-called terror organization cannot have media.
My law firm was defending the victims in Antakya who were suspended or forced to retire in public service or small businessmen who lost their life savings with a simple appointment of administrator by the government. In fact, Turkey was under the “state of emergency” for a long time but it was officially announced by the president Erdogan aftermath of the “God gift” failed coup to “clean up the state”.
The scale of the purge is massive as more than hundreds of thousands people affected. Some have been arrested or detained others lost their jobs, their children are out of the university or school as the government closed down 935 school and 15 universities. My wife is one of the passionate teacher who is also out of job now, thanks to the minister of education who fired 42 thousand teacher from public sector but not only that cancelled the license of 21 thousand of teachers in private sector. I would be the prisoner, if I had stayed in Turkey that I could be detained up to 30 days without seeing the judge and God knows how long it would to take my freedom back in a such dicta regime. But detaining my 86 years old mother was not a job of a dictatorship it is pure an act of mafia! The trauma that people of Turkey has been going through is indescribable, I am sure there are people worse than my situation but simply I just want to ask that what would be the feeling of the children whose both parents are either in prison or out of job, how long can the families survive? So, Erdogan is man of his word as he had said in 2014 “there is no water for them (Gulen community)”!
Along side, my newspaper closed down and circulated copies have been collected, my law firm has been locked down by the authorities and my staff have now became unemployed. The charity (Altin Insan) which was helping the people in need and Denge Law & Thought Association were among the 1125 which was closed down last week.
Finally, as a lawyer, I always fought for the rule of law, liberties and I am strongly against any military intervention to the democratically elected government even if I have so many reason to be against the government policies. What we experiences in Turkey today is no any differences if the coup was successful. Our dream was Turkey to became fully functioning democratic country, member of European Union, I did not dream a country where European Human Rights Convention is suspended, torture becomes a norm and hundred thousands of lives thorn apart…
Published on Vocal Europe, 2 August 2016, Tuesday