Canada’s state-run CBC news website said Saturday, on the anniversary of a failed coup in Turkey last year, that thousands of families have been torn apart with one parent either trapped in Turkey or stranded overseas in order to escape a crackdown by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, which Turkish authorities accuse of being behind the putsch.
In an interview with a young mother who fled Turkey for Canada and left her husband behind, the CBC story, penned by Andrea Huncar, said more than 30 refugee families in Edmonton city and hundreds more across Canada have been torn apart.
“My daughter — she misses her dad very much and she’s growing up without her father. And also my husband is struggling in Greece [to come to Canada]. He’s not safe in Greece,” a Turkish woman who lives in Edmonton told CBC. Her name was not released due to security reasons.
A man who also spoke to CBC said his family in Turkey has no proper income and no health insurance and that his children can’t go to school due to fear of intimidation.
CBC said there are widespread violations of human and legal rights in Turkey as part of the government crackdown in the aftermath of the failed coup, while those who have fled face other consequences.
“Human rights advocates have expressed concern that countries such as Greece and Malaysia are extraditing alleged dissidents back to Turkey where their lives are at risk,” the report said.
In Canada, asylum claims from Turkey more than quadrupled in 2016 to 1,303, compared to a year earlier. And numbers from the Immigration and Refugee Board show claims continue to climb, with 590 in the first quarter of 2017.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the putsch, although the movement denies any involvement. The government has already detained more than 120,000 people over links to the movement, with many human rights groups reporting the torture and maltreatment of those detainees.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan has tried to mobilize Turkish citizens in Turkey and abroad to report Gülen followers to the police. Erdoğan said in a speech last month that if people affiliated with the Gülen movement group are released from prison after completing their prison terms, the Turkish public would “punish them in the streets.”