A Turkish family that was victimized by a government purge of the Gülen movement following a failed coup in July 2016 has fled to Greece in an inflatable boat, telling their children it was a “game,” Euronews reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, 46-year-old Tahsin, a former deputy director at the Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Policy, recently fled Turkey in an inflatable boat after paying traffickers who helped them cross Turkish-Greek border.
To make the long journey to Greece easier for his 5-year-old daughter Rana, in particular, Tahsin made her believe they were playing a game.
“We will play a three-part game. If we complete it, they will give us a prize,” he explained to his daughter, according to Euronews.
The first step in Tahsin’s game was to cross the Evros River in a plastic boat and walk 20 kilometers to a Greek village. “I told her that we needed to walk a long way, pass by swamps, but we must not talk at all,” he told Euronews.
Then when they arrived in Greece, Tahsin told Rana they must surrender themselves to the police and stay in jail for a couple of days where she had to obey every order. If she didn’t complain, then she would win a “prize,” he said.
Finally, the last step would be to go to Athens and live with people who did not speak Turkish but that “if she learned the language, started school and spoke Greek with the teacher, they would be able to go back to their home in Ankara one day.”
Meryem, Tahsin’s wife, said the “game” helped her youngest daughter walk all the way to Greece. And even when she tried to carry her, Rana would say: “Please let me down mommy. I want to win the game.”
It estimated that around 300 families and up to 2,000 individuals accused by the Turkish government of being “Gülenists” have fled to Greece.
Most of them have applied for asylum but have to wait at least three years before they receive an answer.
On Nov. 21 a Turkish family of five attempting to flee persecution in Turkey drowned in the Aegean Sea near the Greek island of Lesvos.
According to information collected by Aktif Haber, detention warrants were outstanding for Hüseyin Maden (40), his wife Nur Maden (36). Both were teachers who were sacked from their jobs following a failed coup last year over alleged links to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of being behind the coup attempt. The couple and their children Nadire Maden (13), Bahar Maden (10) and Feridun Maden (7) drowned as they fled from the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regime’s persecution targeting members of the Gülen movement.
The sources told Aktif Haber that relatives of the Maden family in Turkey’s Samsun province had not heard from them for several days, leading to speculation that the bodies found by Greek authorities might belong to the five members of the Maden family.
Greek authorities delivered identity cards found on the bodies to Turkish police to see whether they belonged to members of the Maden family.
It was reported on Nov. 11 in the Greek media that authorities had discovered three dead children within the space of a few days on the northeast coast of Lesvos, baffling local port authorities, who launched an investigation.
Many people have tried to flee Turkey illegally as the Turkish government cancelled their passports.
Turkey survived a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, 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.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.