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Turkish businessman dies from cancer after belated release from prison

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Medeni Arifoğlu, a Turkish businessman who was jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement, has succumbed to cancer after he was belatedly released from prison despite his deteriorating health, the Kronos news website reported on Saturday.

Arifoğlu’s passing was announced by Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of the Turkish parliament and a leading human rights defender who has been following the businessman’s case for almost three years.

“He was arrested during the state of emergency. His assets were seized. The authorities insisted on keeping him in prison despite the fact that he had a liver transplant,” Gergerlioğlu said.

“He faced every kind of negligence in terms of his health. His appendix burst. He got cancer and was in a miserable situation. They did not suspend the execution of his sentence.”

“I repeatedly submitted parliamentary questions about him. He was ultimately released, but it was too late,” Gergerlioğlu said.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating a failed coup in July 2016, although the movement denies having any role in it.

Following the abortive putsch, the government declared a state of emergency which lasted for two years. In a series of decree laws, the government summarily dismissed tens of thousands of public sector workers and shut down associations, media outlets and educational institutions believed to be affiliated with the movement.

Many businesspeople with alleged links to the movement has been imprisoned and has had their assets seized by the authorities.

One former soldier, Adem Gürbüz, who was sacked by a decree law, committed suicide at a mosque in İstanbul, according to İstanbul deputy Mustafa Yeneroğlu.

Gürbüz reportedly hung himself with a hose at a mosque located in İstanbul’s Dudullu district.

“Perhaps the most dangerous reason for people to decide to end their lives is losing all hope for justice and the future,” Yeneroğlu tweeted on Friday. “We should not remain silent. We bear responsibility for every life lost.” In July 2019 a report by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said 46 purge victims had committed suicide up until then.

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