News & Politics

Turkish Teacher Detained After Coup Was Tortured, Denied Medical Aid, and Will Be Buried as a 'Traitor'

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Gökhan Acikkoglu was, until very recently, a teacher in Turkey. Nobody expected that he would die eight days after a small part of the Turkish army staged a (failed) coup. Yet, that’s exactly what happened.

After the failed coup, Gökhan was arrested by the authorities. Of course, he didn’t have anything to do with the coup. After all, the power grab was carried out by members of the military. Gökhan was sitting at home when it all happened and was just hoping he would be able to continue to teach his students the knowledge they need to succeed in life.

Sadly for Gökhan, the authorities had already added him to a list of supposed supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the Islamic scholar accused by President Erdogan of being the mastermind behind the coup. When the president started his purge, Gökhan was quickly arrested.

After a while, Gökhan fell sick due to diabetes and “harsh treatment,” meaning abuse and even torture. He was brought to a hospital, but the doctors gave the go-ahead. He was brought back to detention.

On July 23, Gökhan — a teacher who was minding his own business when he was arrested — died. He was seriously ill and “badly wounded.”

That’s bad enough, but this story gets even worse. After his death, and without any conviction, Gökhan was declared “a traitor.” As a result, he was denied a funeral service. He will be buried in the so-called “Grave of the Traitors” (a mass grave created by the government for military soldiers who were part of the coup).

As his father says in the video below, the authorities aren’t allowing Gökhan’s family to bury him in a normal grave in Istanbul:

They said he will be buried in the traitors’ cemetery. So my son is treated as a traitor, although he did nothing wrong and wasn’t involved in anything. What was his crime? You took him there, and how did you treat him? My son was perfectly healthy, but now I am receiving his corpse after 13 days.

He went on:

My kid was a proud and honorable person. Probably due to his pride he was unable to bear the insults and suffered a heart attack.

He added:

It’s like a banana republic here. We can’t claim our rights. We can’t say anything. We can’t do anything. For no reason, our kid was branded a traitor. We did nothing wrong!

Remember Gökhan’s story when one of Erdogan’s fascist supporters tries to tell you nothing whatsoever is happening in Turkey. There certainly is something happening, and none of it is good.