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Body of Turkish soldier found in Evros river, he was trying to flee Turkey purge

The body of a Turkish soldier was found in Evros river, the natural border between Greece and Turkey. He was missing for 78 days, after he attempted to illegally cross into Greece through the Evros [Turkish: Maritsa] together with his family. He was a computer engineer at the Missile Base Command in Istanbul and dismissed from his post due to alleged links to the organization the Turkish government blames for the failed coup of July 2016. Thousands have been dismissed from public administration and others were thrown to prison in Turkey purge.

The body of Murat Zümre was found on March 8th by Turkish patrol units.

Turkish media report that Murat Zümre went to the Umurca village of Edirne’s Meriç district along with his wife and children on Dec. 12 to cross the Maritsa River to reach Greece in order to escape the witch-hunt against the Gülen followers in Turkey.

Zümre reportedly jumped into the Maritsa River while he was fleeing a gendarmerie team. Rescue teams from Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) searched for Zümrüt for two weeks, but nothing had been heard from since then until his body was found in the Maritsa River on March 8 by Turkish military patrols six kilometers from the riverbank where he went missing.

His body was sent to the İstanbul Council of Forensic Medicine where DNA tests confirmed his identity.

There was an arrest warrant against him. There are no reports about the fate of his family.

Thousands of people have been forced to leave Turkey through illegal ways because their passports have been cancelled due to the ongoing crackdown on the followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.

A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed, and 4,070 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links.

More than 100 Turkish citizens have fled and Greece and asked for asylum. Among them are a good dozen of military personnel.

In a latest report from Turkey, Financial Times reported that both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government has encouraged citizens to report on perceived state enemies.

Friends, colleagues and even spouses are reporting each other to law enforcement in Turkey as polarization in the society has intensified at the hands of the government since the July 15 coup attempt.

While even family ties would not be enough to prevent one from snitching on others, a segment of society is now mobilized to police spaces that the formal state apparatus cannot.

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