Family of Five, Fleeing Crackdown in Turkey, Feared Drowned in Aegean

A family of five from Turkey feared drowned while they were fleeing the post-coup crackdown in Turkey, highlighting the scale of the purge since people facing arrest risk the perilous path with unseaworthy crafts in the stormy Aegean.

Huseyin Maden, 40, was a physics teacher in Turkey’s Kastomonu province until an executive decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid him off. He was stripped of all titles and benefits. He was also banned from applying to a public job again. His wife Nur, 36, was a kindergarten teacher and fired during the post-coup purge as well.

Turkish prosecutors later issued an arrest warrant for Mr. and Mrs. Maden, both sympathizers of the Gulen movement. Fearing that their children would be left alone once they are arrested, the parents decided to live in hiding for a year.

The couple worked in various low-paying jobs to save money to flee Turkey. Smugglers, however, demanded very high price for the family of five. Unable to pay that amount, Mr. Maden purchased a small boat and decided to take his family to the Greek island of Lesbos.

The Maden family embarked on a dangerous voyage earlier this month. Mr. Maden even texted to his relatives back in Turkey during the trip that they were about to make it to the shore, sources said. It was not clear what happened next.

A week later, bodies of Nadire (13), Bahar (10) and Feridun (7) washed up on the beach on the northeastern side of the island in three separate days. Greek authorities still couldn’t identify the bodies.

Three weeks into their trip, there is no sign of the parents. Both of them are feared drowned.

In March, the body of Mustafa Zumre, who was tortured for nine days in prison and released only after he gave out false information, was washed up on the Turkish bank of Meric river. He drowned while trying to flee to Greece from Turkey.

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