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Human Rights

A 15th July of an academician; interrogation at the university, imprisonment, a journey to death, a fragmented family

He was an academic who involved in an international project of Turkey. He was blacklisted by professors and interrogated, handcuffed at the university campus, his family disbanded, crawled in the sewers for an hour and marched to freedom…


S. A. was an academician at Düzce University Vocational School of Higher Education. But he’s not an ordinary scholar. He was a professor, who had been accepted to national and international universities and wrote down numerous Turkish and English articles. However, after the 15th of July, he was questioned at the university by his colleagues and reported to the police.

After about 7, 5 months in prison S.A acquitted of all claims and because of family threats, he had to leave Turkey. He had faced a lot of troubles before he passed the Maritsa (Meric) River1.

37 years old scholar fell into a sewer in Edirne, attacked by the dogs three times. Now in Germany, he is trying to heal and to hold on to life. With his own words, S.A’s academic journey, his fragmented family and events he had experienced his journey to becoming a refugee:

In 2002, I graduated from Seljuk University Industrial Engineering Department. In 2004-2005, I enrolled in the Russian Language and Literature Department of the same university. I finished the two programs at the same time in 2007.

In the same year, I got admission to the master’s degree in General Management and Strategic Management at Moscow State University. After completing my master’s program for one year, I went to America to improve my English in the last semester of 2009 and enrolled at Brooklyn College, where I learned both the language and did research on my thesis.

Then I returned to Turkey. I got married in July 2010 and started to work here in September 2010 because of my acceptance from Duzce University. I worked in Düzce until 2016.


I was always so eager to study and improve myself. I also wanted to use my foreign language skills and I thought I had great potential. Later, I have started my Ph.D. in Management at Duzce University and Ph.D. in the industry at Sakarya University.

I also applied to study Political Science and International Relations at Sakarya University.
For as long as I have known myself, I have been doing research in libraries. I have always been interested in doing research, publishing, and other things, not only in my field but also in other fields. I went to various courses to be useful to my students.

I am an industrial engineer and labor safety is one of our field of study. At the university, we have studied these courses, but we need to deepen in order to teach something. Quality management system, food management, occupational health, and safety management system, I took all of them one by one by joining the training.

Düzce University had signed an agreement with Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Belarus, such as the Black Sea Region Cooperation. I was going to the meetings held in Istanbul to represent my university and I was monitoring the projects.

In 2013 and 2014, I went to Hungary at the University of Szeged as a visiting lecturer. I participated in many national and international meetings. I have 11 domestic and foreign articles. I was in the last period of my doctorate which I started in Sakarya and continued in Düzce.


I was always considering all the opportunities that I had before me. In 2015, I got accepted from Ahmet Yesevi University in Kazakhstan. But I could not go because the YÖK did not allow. Ahmet Yasevi University submits its announcements to YOK.

And the YOK announces such programs to the universities in Turkey. The university has also spread the words among its staff. I prepared my documents for application, I sent both the Higher Education Council and the university itself.

Ahmet Yesevi University has a center in Ankara. They called me for an interview. I went, the president himself made an oral interview and responded “all right, we accept you”. We look forward to hearing the decision from YOK.

In the meantime, I took out my passport, prepared the paperwork. A few meetings were held, and we even met with lecturers. However, YÖK did not give permission. My brother, who was a police officer, was detained in 2015. So his detainment led my blacklisting.


Since I was in the last semester of my doctorate, I applied to Poland Wroclaw University for a doctorate internship in 2016, I got accepted. I was going to Poland on July 15, 2016. My tickets were ready. A few days before my departure, I went to Adana with my family.

Within the thought of something might happen on the way, I was just saying goodbye to them, and something unexpected happened, a coup attempt took place night of July 15, 2016.

All the officers were called to return their work, so I did. I have acquainted my return with an official letter. I informed them that even though I had to be in Poland at that time to pursue my internship I did not go and I am back to my work as I was asked.

Because it was a holiday period, we usually went to university like 10.00. August 21, 2016, the head of the department called me early in the morning. It was around 7: 00-08: 00 am.

It was obvious that there was something wrong. The letter of dismissal was handed over me. When I asked the reason for this I was told that they don’t know the reason and that they are not even allowed to show me the decision paper.

It was such a shocking moment for me that I just wanted to get out of university. Even If I don’t leave, security comes over and get you out and until the further notice you are not allowed to enter the university.

hat’s why I wanted to get out. They’re hurting your honor, your pride. They’ve sealed our room and we couldn’t even get our personal belongings. By personal belongings, I mean our regular clothes…

Later on, I found out that there was also an arrest warrant under my name on the same day. I went home and stayed there for a week. There was no news from the university.

I was not aware of what was going on in there and this cluelessness was eating me up. A week later, on August 29, 2016, I went to the rectorate of the university. When I asked again the reason for my dismissal, I was told to wait to be interviewed.


I was waiting for an interview. They put security by my side. I left my car keys, everything to the security. The interview started, I call an interview, but they actually interrogated me. The Rectorate was assigned a room for disciplinary investigations, my interview took place in there.

For the first time, they were putting security on the door when someone was giving their testimony. Both in front and behind the door. Those who questioned me were two professors appointed by the Rectorate; İlyas Uygur and Haldun Müderrisoğlu.

They had 30-40 questions. They were trying to find out if I was connected to the Hizmet Movement. I had neither the Bank Asian account, the newspaper subscription, nor anything else. Not a single one, nothing at all… The interrogation continued this way.

Lastly, the dean of the engineering faculty asked me did you use Bylock? I did not use it and I’ve mentioned it repeatedly in every query that I didn’t use, but it was ignored.

In the court process, I saw how everyone has been blacklisted by the university. Highly classified documents were presented to the court by the university. Some blacklisted of having a Bank Asian accounts, some were given away by secret witnesses…


When I left the interrogation room at the university, I saw 3-4 police officers waiting for me from anti-terror branch of the police HQ. Apparently, during my interrogation, my colleagues called the public prosecutor’s office and asked if there is any search warrant for me?

When they received the answer yes, they told the police that I was at the university. My colleagues did it! Can you imagine? Before my other colleagues, I was taken into custody at the university entrance accused to be a member of a terrorist organization. They did it hurting my honor, offending me.


They took me to the hospital first, then to the police, and lastly to the main building of the Duzce provincial security directorate. There was no place in holding cells. Then, I was told that I would not see anyone for 5 days. I could stay there for 5 to 30 days. In the meantime, I might meet with my lawyer once.

On the fourth day, my statement was taken. A lawyer of the code of criminal procedure came down. Again the asked me similar questions. I said NO to all because I know myself.

They presented one cell phone number and asked, “Does this number belongs to you?” It was my number and I said yes. In return, they said, “Bylock app was used over this number, you are not sure if you have used it”. I was sure that I never used that mentioned app and I said NO.

One day later, I was taken to court. Criminal judge of peace told me following; “If you give a few names your punishment will be reduced.

You can benefit from effective remorse law if you decipher the structure of the Hizmet movement in Duzce. I said I have no knowledge of this and I did not do anything to confess. I told him that I never used the Bylock and I want to be released on conditions of trial without arrest. But, my effort was pointless.


The judge asked me if I had the last word. I said, I do and said following; “What I could possibly be done as serious as to be withdrawn from my work and be arrested? What is my crime, I want to be informed of the allegations. In return the judge said, there are 8 files about you. How so! How could there be 8 files about me? I could not believe! These are university files, he added.

What are the mentioned allegations in the files? I asked. The judge said the files are classified, we are not allowed to see. Are you arresting me due to allegations you are not even allowed to see? The judge could not look into my eyes and arrested me over two crimes.

To eliminate the constitutional order and to become a member of the armed terrorist organization. On the same day, we were sent to Duzce Cilimli Prison. We stayed 27 people in wards for 9 people. People were laying over the ground.


A few days later my family hired a lawyer. My lawyer asked me if I used Bylock, I told him I didn’t. I was released from prison after 7.5 months when police headquarters sent a letter saying that I did not use Bylock. A list of 216 thousand people was first prepared for those using Bylock.

Then this list fell to 90 thousand because of the mistake. My name appeared in one of those mistakenly prepared lists. If a person using a Bylock connects to a Wifi and you are connected to that Wifi, it is as if you have used Bylock.

That’s what it was. As a result, the prosecutor who arrested me released me with judicial control. But I spent 7.5 months in prison. Then the judicial control was lifted along with the limits in the bank.


In the meantime, I was dismissed from my job with an issued decree law No. 675, in October 2016. When I got out of prison, I applied to return to the university, but they did not consider my application.

It seems that someone from the universities had made a secret statement about me, and then told them that he didn’t know me. Therefore, the secret witness claim in my file has thus fallen.

When I was detained there was a book called Bediuzzaman and his unknown sides”. They took it. The judge said that organizational documents came out of your house. It was a book published by Nesil Publishing and the book was still on sale.

Since the Generation Publishing was not closed with the Decree, the judge accepted this objection. And in December 2018 I was acquitted of all the allegations about me. I’ve been on trial for two and a half years. I was acquitted. I thought I could have heaved a sigh of relief at last. But it never ends.


But this time, my wife and her family began to see me as a traitor. After I was acquitted, she took the children away. She filed a divorce lawsuit. As a reason of the divorce lawsuit, it was written that ’Dismissal from his job for being a member of a terrorist organization, led psychological breakdown.

She demanded a lot of money for indemnity. I was making good money when I was an academician, but then I didn’t make any money … I applied to more than 40 factories. No one gave me a job. Lastly, I was starting to do the survey analysis to earn some money.


I had a few days between my wife’s case and my file in the Court of Appeal. When the prosecutor saw the reasoning in the divorce case, he appealed for disapproval of the acquittal decision.

My lawyer said the decision could be changed. Now I’ve been waking up every day with stress. My psychology became upside down, influenced by the thought that they might come at any time of the day to get me again.

One morning, the cops came, they said they were going to determine the address and income. There was a letter from the 11th Family Court in Istanbul. Of course, I’m afraid I’ll be arrested again. 7-8 times called to the police headquarters.

By the way, my wife and her family were constantly threatening me. They kept saying, “Either you pay 50 thousand Turkish Lira, and send 2500 Turkish lira every month, send the goods in the house, leave the custody of the children or I might go to the courthouse again to give new testimony.

We were married for 9 years. I have two daughters, one 3.5 and one 8. I want to talk to the kids. If you come, she said, she would give my name to the prosecutor’s office. She made the decision to suspend me and prevented me from seeing the children.

My wife’s, mother-in-law’s threats, they were supporting the ruling party, Justice, and Development, and they were sending some men from the party to treat me. I’ve had very hard and depressive days. I didn’t have a single night that I put my head on the pillow, stress-free, carefree.

I was seriously depressed and I was smoking 3-4 packs a day. This time before the trial of the case, my home was destroyed. I was so overwhelmed and decided to go abroad without even telling my parents.


On March 19, 2019, I passed through Meric to Greece. But it wasn’t easy. In order to reach the riverside, we walked on a country road in Edirne İpsala side for miles. It was cold, foggy. We walk, but we don’t know where we were walking. The smugglers suddenly said that the gendarmes set an ambushed and there were only 5 meters left between us.

I had another family with me. So with a quick reflex, I throw my backpack away and started running. The gendarmes were shouting that we must surrender otherwise they would shoot us.

I didn’t stop, why didn’t I stop, I don’t know, with a reflex, the feeling of running in a moment woke. In normal occasions, I would just stop when I first hear the warning but back in that day I could not stop and kept running.


I was running towards the fields. I don’t know how many people. The gendarmerie chased me for a while. After running a bit, a sewer came out in front of me. It was a big open-top sewer. I didn’t see the inside of course. I got down there and I landed in the slime to my knee as I landed and I fell face down. Meanwhile, I see flashlights.


I thought I’d run out of the opposite side, but I couldn’t get my foot off the slime. I started to crawl. Maybe half an hour, maybe an hour in that slime and over my hands, knees, I crawled. It is hard to track the time down there, you do not know how much time has passed, and you kept losing time.

In front of me frogs, mice, snakes, insects are escaping to the left and right. It was a canal where you know the excavation (feces) and the water of the village goes to the river Meric.

After the sewer was going straight, it curled to the left. There was a place where the water had eroded. I stuck my back there, and I hid my body inside there. I hid there for 15-20 minutes.

I checked around regularly, I checked to see if there was anyone around. When I made sure there was nobody around, I continued crawling. But it was so hard to move on.

I was all covered with mud, dirt inside the sewer. I was wearing a coat to avoid being affected by the cold. You can guess what that jacket could turn into because of that slime and mud.


I was finally out. I kept walking. My clothes all the dirt in the sewer and I’m freezing cold. I went back into the fields, and I’ve been lying on the ground occasionally because I see lights. After walking a little bit, a giant dog attacked me.

I had a pocket knife, a cigarette lighter in my inner pocket. I found the stick etc. I got rid of the dog. I kept moving forward. By the way, I lost my way, I don’t know how many kilometers and how many hours I walked.

This time we saw a lot of off-road in the area. Then, a shepherd dog attacked me. I thought he was going to tear me apart and it chased me down for more than 500 meters. I kicked him away with a light and a stick.

Still, I’m on Turkey side. I’m in the fields, I’m on the run, but I’m worried. Then a bunch of 5-6 dogs attacked me. I thought they would break me up this time.


And now I’ve left everything. Because at that moment your adrenaline level raises and the fear leaves its place to the zero points. Worry, anxiety, fear, you don’t feel anything, I start ignoring whatever you say or see.

I’m shouting with these feelings and the stick in my hand with a reflex, with courage toward dogs. Or they will kill me, they will break me, I thought. After the dogs snarled for a couple of minutes, they got away.

After a while, I saw a building like a roadside room. I went there and I picked up the phone. The phone was working properly. There was a leather jacket under the thick coat, I put it in his inner pocket.

I called the smugglers, they came an hour later. There were a woman and a man in the car. They were surprised by how I escaped. Laptop in my backpack, the diplomas, they were all gone.


The smugglers took me somewhere and told me to wait there. I didn’t trust them anymore, but there was nothing else to do. I had to wait. I went into the reeds, hiding from the outside. They told me that a car would come, and if somebody landed, I had to ride right away. A car approached and I did.

When we got to the road, the gendarmerie blocked the road. We turned right back, looked at the other side. We were trapped on both sides. We plunged into the fields again.

The driver didn’t know the way, the other guy on the passenger seat was describing the road. They stopped somewhere, turned off the headlights, changed places. Then we got over the gendarmes again.


The smugglers took me to a house. I took a shower. They gave me very narrow and old clothes. I wore a 2-3 size small shoe, and now I’ve got a loss of feeling on my 4 fingers. I didn’t want to go anymore, I lost my hope, and maybe I was starting to think that I shouldn’t.

I’ve been thinking about it over and over again. They said we’ll try again in the morning. Last time I wanted to give myself another chance. There was a family with young children and everyone was worried.

We set off early and we walked quite a bit and then approached where we were going to cross. We were just about to arrive, and a battalion gendarme came up again.

The car turned back, and we again got over the gendarmes. We just went down to the edge of the river and crossed the boat. Of course, the shoe, clothes, and cold.

My lungs caught a cold there. Inflammation has started in my lungs. I still could not heal properly. We walked 6-7 km on the Greek side. I didn’t want to leave the family behind, they don’t speak any foreign language, and they have plenty of stuff to carry and little children.

Finally, the police took us all at the train station. The process of every refugee would face has started for me too. On 20 March we stayed in police headquarters, and in prison on 21-23 March. Then they sent us to the refugee camp.


I was going to apply for asylum in Athens. They didn’t even make an appointment until 2025. I tried to fly from Athens to Germany with a false identity.

I got caught the first time. The second time I decided to try it from Crete. I came to Athens on Monday. Saturday ship to Crete, I flew from Crete in the morning on Sunday, but the officers stopped me several times until the plane.

The reason for pullover was that the bus was full, so there were no priority ones, so they stopped. I didn’t know why that was happening, but something was going on at the last minute.

Every time I was scared to death, and then I was taking a deep breath. It felt like as if those time last like a once lifetime. A few hours until I passed through the river, a day journey. It is all done now. But I feel like I lost lots of my life.

I’m in Germany now, I applied for asylum, and I’m staying at the camp for now. I have an interview today, I will talk about my journey.

I would like to learn German at a moment and continue my education here. It’s hard to start all over again, but after that tough journey, everything feels alright. I just miss my girls….​​

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Human Rights

Understanding shifts in Turkey through Yamanlar College

Erdoğan Regime shut down nearly 1400 foundations, associations, and schools belonging to the Gülen Movement. Yamanlar College was one of the most emblematic ones. The college was the first college founded in the years when the movement was founded.

Starting to serve in the education field in 1982, the school preferred the modern education system. Cleric Mr. Gülen said to his followers that education is the fundamental problem of Turkey, and instead of building mosques or religious vocational high schools, they shall open modern schools.

Yamanlar College, the first school, established within this scope, became Turkey’s one of the most successful private schools. Afterward, the Gülen Movement founded 21 universities and nearly 1400 private schools in Turkey.

Erdogan accused the Gulen Movement in 2013 after the corruption operation targeted Erdogan’s four ministers and his son Bilal. These operations, known as the 17/25 December Corruption Operation, were closed with the dismissal of police and prosecutors.

Erdogan immediately sent the officers to the foundation schools belonged to the Gülen Movement to impose a fine, some of the schools were cut off the water, and some of the schools’ gardens were destroyed by constructing new roads.

The repression continued, and Erdogan started to confiscate the school administration. The complete confiscation of schools and the cessation of education took place after the controversial coup attempt on 15 July 2016.

Seizing all the power in his hands after the coup attempt in Turkey, Erdogan declared the State of Emergency and started the presidential system. Meantime, all the foundation schools owned by the Gülen Movement were closed down.

The Erdogan regime has transformed most of these schools into religious vocational high schools (Imam Hatip in Turkish), where teachers mostly teach Salafi beliefs. The Gülen Movement’s first school Yamanlar College was one of them.

An event held during the first days of 2020 has launched a new debate in Turkey over Yamanlar College’s transformation.

The Sıla Foundation organized a conference on Shariah in the premises of Yamanlar used in the past as a sports hall and theater. İhsan Şenocak, one of the speakers at the Sıla Foundation’s meeting, wanted a declaration war against Israel and called the government officials, “You walk towards Tel Aviv, we’ll come after you.” These words received great support from the hall.

One of the significant issues discussed in the meeting was covering the picture of the Republic of Turkey’s founder Kemal Ataturk in the hall.

People wearing turban and robes in the hall and the speeches made were on the axis of the change after the school, which had modern education in the past, was taken away from the Gülen Movement.

The education system in Turkey experienced significant changes in recent years. The Erdogan regime opened thousands of new religious vocational high schools, or the existing schools were turned into religious vocational high schools. Families complain about this, but the number of schools that provide modern education is decreasing day by day.

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Human Rights

Pregnant behind bars with a two-year-old kid

Elif Aydın, 31, is one of the educators arrested in Turkey over the past three years. She was two-months pregnant when she was sent to prison in the western province of Gebze on May 25, 2018. She also had two kids, 6 and 3 years old at that time.

She couldn’t leave behind her younger child, Musab; thus, she brought him along to prison. They did not provide a separate bed for her son in the eight-person ward. The pregnant woman stayed by sharing the same bed with his son in prison for months.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) ‘s deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a prominent human rights activist, has been fighting for her release from prison.

Turkish law forbids the arrest of pregnant women; however, this ban has not been applied for suspects from the Gulen movement and of Kurdish origin.

Gergerlioğlu filed a complaint on July 1, 2018, with the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) against the judge and prosecutor who gave the arrest decision for Elif Aydın. A response from HSYK to his complaint came 1.5 years later. They have not investigated it so far.

“By this decision, HSYK has become an accomplice to this crime,” Gergerlioğlu said.

Elif Aydın, on the other hand, is trying to be the voice of other arrested pregnant women by revealing what she had been through.


Aydın: “I fell downstairs twice”

“I was the director of a private student residence. That was the only accusation leveled against me. My husband had stayed in prison for a year over links to the Gulen movement. They arrested me nine months after he was released from jail. I left my older child behind and took Musab in prison with me. And I was pregnant with my third child. We all three were trying to sleep in the same bed.

“I fell downstairs twice and was taken to the hospital. My kid, Musab, also fell downstairs several times, and his face and eyes got hurt. The ward was an eight-person ward, but there were times also where nine people had been staying in our ward. The prison is tough for a woman with a child. It was summer, fortunately, when I was jailed, so we could spend most of our time in the yard. When it became colder, we had to stay inside.”

“There was no hygiene in prison. Musab’s eyes caught an infection. He hit his head on the bunk beds many times. He fell off the bunk bed, and he hurt his head and mouth. I was pregnant and was seeing all these (Musab had been through) so, I grew depressed.

“Many pregnant women were arrested like me. And, this is still going on. There are no special arrangements or facilities in place for pregnant women and children in prison. Life is quite hard in prison.”


Thousands of educators arrested

Erdogan’s regime mainly targeted well-educated people. About 1,400 Gulen-affiliated schools, kindergartens, student residences, and universities were shut down. Thirty thousand teachers were dismissed, and their licenses were revoked. Thousands of teachers were arrested.

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Human Rights

Slaying of cadets remains mystery years after coup bid


BOLD- Murat Tekin and Ragıp Enes Katran were Turkish cadets. On July 15, 2016, they were attacked and killed on the Bosphorus bridge.

Was it the angry mob who killed the two military students or the obscure organization called SADAT of Erdoğan?

On July 15, 2016, Turkey experienced a coup attempt. There are various allegations about that night, which are still unexplained. One of those events was the murder of two cadets at the Bosphorus Bridge.

One of those students was Ragıp Enes Katran, a 20-year-old student of the Air Force Academy. According to an autopsy report, he succumbed to stab wounds on his body. The footages made by cell phones on that night shows Katran covered in blood.

His elder brother, Fevzi Katran, who was a soldier like him, now lives in Germany as a refugee. He was expelled from the military shortly after his brother was killed. Subsequently, an arrest warrant was issued. He was forced to flee Turkey.

On that night, Turkey allegedly used militant groups in Istanbul and Ankara, who were also on the ground in Syria.

The group in question is a mercenary company called SADAT, led by a retired general of the Turkish Armed Forces, Adnan Tanrıverdi. He is known for his extreme Islamist ideas.

Tanriverdi, who did not hesitate to say that they used SADAT in Syria, stated that they were on the streets on the night of the coup bid. However, he denies the murder allegations.

Fevzi Katran does not believe that the people who stabbed his brother were the angry mob.

“There were bruises, holes, and cuts on his body. I mean, this is murder. They murdered my brother, Murat and the other soldiers. There was a group of people there. I can’t call them regular people. I think our people wouldn’t do that.”


According to the Erdogan regime, more than 250 civilians were killed on the night of July 15. The soldiers on trial importunately demand the ballistic reports of the weapons used in the hearings. However, authorities reject these demands.

Trying to recover in Germany


Fevzi Katran, who tries to recover in Germany, stated that very few soldiers participated in the putsch bid on July 15, and cadets were taken to the bridges to increase the number:

“They put the cadets into the cars and said they were going to the Air Force Academy because there had been a terrorist attack. The students did not know anything. No cell phones, no access to anything. They set off thinking they were going to the Air Force Academy. They had shut down all military schools by getting the students involved in the coup. This could be a reason. There were not enough people involved in the coup attempt that night. They increased the number of people with cadets. Those who planned this took out all the students from there to shut the schools down. And they took new ones instead.”

Ragıp Enes Katran with her brother in Istanbul.

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