Turkish Authorities Deny Funeral Service for Drowned Gulen Supporters
Local municipality officials in western Turkey denied funeral service and funeral vehicle for six people, including three babies, who drowned while attempting to reach Greek island of Lesbos in a bid to flee persecution in their home country.
On early Sunday, six Turkish asylum seekers, who were believed to have ties to Gulen Movement, died when a boat carrying 16 people capsized off northwestern Turkey coast.
The bodies were taken to Ayvalik Hospital Morgue in Ayvalik, a coastal district of the northwestern province of Balikesir. Then they were transferred to Bursa State Hospital Forensic Institution for an autopsy report. Bursa mayor refused to provide a funeral vehicle for the slain bodies due to their perceived links to Gulen Movement.
Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, former human rights activist and a lawmaker from pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), wrote on Twitter that the municipality blocked public service to the victims. “No funeral vehicle to FETO,” Mayor Alinur Aktas instructed the officials, he said.
The Turkish government labeled Gulen Movement as a terrorist organization and remanded more than 50,000 people in jail over real or perceived ties to the group. Ankara placed the blame for the failed 2016 coup on the group.
Bursa adli tıp'taki 3 mülteci GÖKHAN, BURHAN, NURBANU YENİ'nin cenazeleri icin arac verilmemiş.Aradım cenaze müdürünü Bursa B.sehir baskani 'fetocüye araç yok' demis.
Bu skandaldır, bu rezalettir, bu insanlık dışı bir olaydır..!
Niye bu ölümler oluyor, hala anlamıyor musunuz?
— Ö.Faruk Gergerlioğlu (@gergerliogluof) July 29, 2018
After the lawmaker brought the claim in social media, Bursa Metropolitan Municipality Public Relations Department denied that.
Asked by journalists, Department Director Ahmet Bayhan noted that the municipality does not make politics through dead bodies of people and they provide service to citizens regardless of their political and social affiliation.
“We have no such an instruction. We don’t make politics over funerals; our job is to provide service,” he said.
In a statement by the municipality, it said families wanted to send bodies to far away provinces. According to the procedure, the municipality informed the families that corpses should be brought by plane. When the families preferred land route, they found vehicles with their own measures, without any service by the municipality.
During the state of emergency, which ended on July 18, more than 150,000 public workers have been either suspended or dismissed from civil service and security bureaucracy over charges of having links to Gulen Movement. The arbitrariness, the lack of fair trial and due process sparked international criticism during the post-coup purge.
The HDP lawmaker, a physician and an academic, was also dismissed from his job. He frequently brings the cases of victims to national attention and now in Parliament.
International human rights groups have called on Turkey to restore rights of the purge victims. But Ankara has so far refused the calls.