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Jailed purge victim dies of cerebral hemorrhage

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Şafak Demir, one of the thousands of teachers removed from their posts by government decrees due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement and subsequently jailed, died on Tuesday from a cerebral hemorrhage suffered in prison on Saturday.

The former teacher suffered the hemorrhage at Tarsus Prison in southern Turkey from where she was taken to Adana City Hospital.

The woman, a mother of two, died at the hospital despite the doctors’ best efforts.

Demir’s husband Mehmet is also jailed in Tarsus Prison over alleged links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

The couple’s young children are being taken care of by relatives.

Renowned human rights activist and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who wrote about Şafak Demir’s ordeal on Twitter, called for the immediate release of Mehmet Demir so that he can take care of his children and help them overcome the trauma of losing their mother.

Gergerlioğlu said he was very saddened by the death of Şafak Demir.

“She experienced most of the pain experienced by the purge victims and was eventually overwhelmed by the tyrant order. It is impossible for us to forget this; justice will definitely be served,” Gergerlioğlu tweeted on Tuesday.

The military coup attempt killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch the ruling 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.

Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement, more than 50,000 people have been jailed while more than 150,000 have been removed from state posts due to alleged Gülen links since the coup attempt.

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