Man dies in Maritsa River while fleeing persecution in Turkey


Date posted: March 15, 2017

The body of Mustafa Zümre, a computer engineer at the 15th Missile Base Command in İstanbul who was dismissed from his post due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement and was being investigated for the same reason, has been found in the Maritsa River 78 days after he went missing, Turkish media reports said on Wednesday.

Zümre, for whom an arrest warrant was issued due to alleged Gülen links, reportedly went to the Umurca village of Edirne’s Meriç district along with his wife and children on Dec. 12 to cross the Maritsa River to reach Greece in order to escape the witch-hunt against the Gülen followers in Turkey.

Zümre reportedly jumped into the Maritsa River while he was fleeing a gendarmerie team. Rescue teams from Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) searched for Zümrüt for two weeks, but nothing had been heard from since then until his body was found in the Maritsa River on March 8 by Turkish military patrols six kilometers from the riverbank where he went missing.

His body was sent to the İstanbul Council of Forensic Medicine where DNA tests confirmed his identity.

Thousands of people have been forced to leave Turkey through illegal ways because their passports have been cancelled due to the ongoing crackdown on the followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.

A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed, and 4,070 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links.

Source: Turkish Minute , March 15, 2017


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