By Oya Aktas
This weekend, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) released a report prepared by CHP Vice President Veli Ağbaba titled, “Report of Suicides Under State of Emergency.” In the report, Ağbaba documents 35 suicides that are determined to have resulted from “Expulsion or arrest due to FETÖ membership of persons or their close relatives.” The list includes 17 police officers, 4 soldiers, 2 correctional officers, 1 counselor, 1 district governor, 1 imam, 1 prosecutor, 1 engineer, 1 student, 1 doctor, and 1 dentist.
The text of the report is as follows:
“Following the treacherous July 15, 2016 coup attempt, and the ensuing government-declared State of Emergency Rule, executive orders have been used to dismiss over one hundred thousand civilians and arrest tens of thousands. The indiscriminate nature of these dismissals and arrests has deeply undermined the sense of justice in our country. While the bank that financed the terror organization is shut down and everyone involved is suspended, down to the civil servants that used this bank to deposit rent for their houses, the political organization that opened this bank with fanfare and encouraged patronage of this bank remains fully immune. Authorities insist that though FETO accomplices exist among singers and soldiers, bakers and bankers, civil servants and police officers, journalists and workers, somehow FETO membership or support has not appeared in the governing political organization. This double standard has exposed the insincerity of the campaign against the terror organization.
As a party we have expressed readiness to provide every means of support in the campaign against the terror organization, and have noted the necessity of ensuring this campaign is carried out within the confines of legality and justice. However, during this process, the concepts of individual rights, law, and justice have been abandoned, and alongside those with direct ties to this terror organization, thousands of innocent people have been victimized. The ruling party has confirmed this evaluation, and has begun to reinstate some dismissed citizens to their previous posts.
The duty of the government is to respect universal human rights regardless of the backgrounds of the people arrested or held in jail. However, after the state of emergency declaration on July 20th, following the treacherous coup attempt, allegations of severe torture or maltreatment have increased, and many national and international reports have noted these conditions. Yet, requests to investigate these allegations have been denied time and again.
A core tenet of the fight against terror must include not victimizing innocent citizens. Yet this process has given rise to significant levels of unjust suffering. Dismissed and arrested individuals, as well as their families, have been presumed guilty without investigation into actual connections with the terror organization. Cases of relatives or close ones of the accused being denied credit loans, houses, or jobs are commonly heard. Crime is no longer treated as an individual act. The consequential disappearance of the sense of justice, the closure of legal avenues for people to prove their innocence, and the increase in torture allegations have resulted in serious increases in suicide rates. There are also claims that some people are resorting to suicide in order to avoid exposing their links to the terror organization. This report provides possible reasons for the suicides, but avoids making any claims or passing judgments. The report is only a situational determination. Research into the current situation is ongoing.
Many individuals who have been dismissed or arrested for membership in the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization, as well as close ones of these individuals, have committed suicide. Until today, 35 people are determined to have committed suicide due to FETO membership-related dismissal or arrest. 13 of these suicides took place at home, 7 in jail, 1 in a detention center, 1 in a dormitory, 8 at the workplace, and 5 outside. The list of individuals that have committed suicide includes 17 police officers, 4 soldiers, 2 correctional officers, 1 counselor, 1 district governor, 1 imam, 1 prosecutor, 1 engineer, 1 student, 1 doctor, and 1 dentist.”
The report goes on to document the background of each individual victim, as well as the circumstances surrounding their suicide. The report does not include all of the recent suicides in the military and police forces, such as that of Ziya Ekmekçi, who took his own life on April 25th while serving in Izmir’s Gendarmarie Headquarters.