A police officer who was among the thousands of people who have been purged from state institutions due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement committed suicide in the central province of Çorum on Thursday night.
Turkey’s National Police Department on Oct. 3 suspended 12,801 officers in the latest phase of a clampdown on the movement.
Police officer Hakkı Topal was recently suspended from his job in the Çorum Police Department as part of a massive purge launched in the wake of a failed military coup attempt on July 15 for which the Turkish government holds the Gülen movement responsible despite the lack of any tangible evidence to that effect.
Topal reportedly drove his car to a forest near Lake Seydim where he hung himself with a rope attached to a tree.
When Topal’s wife, Çiğdem, was unable to reach her husband by mobile phone, she notified the police and asked their assistance in finding her husband.
Police found Hakkı Topal’s body hanging from a tree in the forest and took it to the Çorum Teaching and Research Hospital morgue for autopsy.
Çiğdem Topal was devastated upon learning of the death of her husband. “You finished us off. My husband had no guilt,” she said in tears.
Hakkı Topal’s death was the 20th suspicious suicide to have taken place among people affected by the ongoing witch-hunt against alleged sympathizers of the Gülen movement.
On Sept. 19, the Turkey Purge website reported that at least 14 people have reportedly committed suicide either after they were imprisoned over ties to the movement or after being linked to the movement outside prison. The figure now stands at 20.
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.
More than 100,000 people have been purged from state bodies and 34,000 arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian.