HE IS, through sweat and hard work, building up a reputation as one of Turkey’s best exports in the science field.
Meet Yunus Karaca, a Turkish teacher who has been awarded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for his excellent science projects.
Karaca was forced to flee Turkey to go and live in a refugee camp. While there, he received investment proposals worth 100 million Euros from British investors.
Asst. Assoc. Dr Yunus Karaca had taught in Uzbekistan, Turkey and the US. He is an inventor and an academic who had not only received a NASA award, but also various others such as the Environment Award, received from the Sabri Ülker Foundation, Medyabold reported.
His last project involved the separation of waste at apartments before they were collected was implemented as a pilot project in Turkey and was approved as part of the Ministry of Environment’s regulations.
Karaca’s successful career is yet another example of the brain drain that continues to afflict Turkey, since after the coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
German and British investors have now also taken up his waste separation project.
In Turkey, Karaca is seen as a terrorist but in Germany, he is revered as one of the best migrants that the country could have ever asked for.
Karaca said: “After graduating from Gazi University’s Department of Biology, I went to Uzbekistan with the guidance of the Hizmet Movement. During a training course I took at FEM cramming school, I had a project titled ‘How to Prepare a Project.’ That changed the course of my life.”
After completing his PhD in Uzbekistan and working on various projects in Turkey, Karaca received a three-year job offer from the US and started attending classes at a Los Angeles school.
A due return to his homeland to contribute
After teaching and working on various projects for three years in the US, Karaca returned to Turkey and received an offer from Dumlupınar University. Karaca helped to build a technopark at the university.
At Dumlupinar, Karaca started to work on his waste separation project. “It was a project that could bring Turkey revenue of up to $5 billion a year,” Karaca said.
Sadly, the project was discontinued after the coup attempt, resulting in thousands of professionals falsely accused of being part of an armed terrorist organisation.
Karaca had started to teach primary school teachers at Dumlupınar University to spread his method of creating projects across the country: “The Technology Center we had opened at Dumlupınar University was about patenting. I wanted to get a patent from the industry and help develop the country. We had managed to create patents in a rural city like Kütahya.”
After the attempted coup the Technology Centre was closed down, and its staff fired.
“If you don’t come, we’ll take your wife”
Karaca became one of the victims of the operations, seen by many human rights groups as politically motivated ones, followed July 15, 2016. He was fired from his job with a decree, and three months later, the police broke into his house: “My wife called, I told the cops I was at the meeting. They said, ‘If you don’t come, we’ll take the lady. I went home. The police had taken the hard disk that had the projects. Then they took me into custody.”
After his release by a judge pending a trial, Karaca then decided to leave Turkey. “My blood pressure rose due to the ill-treatment I faced during detention. They didn’t even care about my condition at the hospital. When I was brought before the judge, I told him to Google me and take a look at my projects and work. I told him about the award I had received from NASA. The judge made the decision to release me pending trial. A whole year passed like this. I was still trying to be positive.”
During this time, Karaca met with investors from England who came to Turkey to discuss his waste separation project. They wanted to invest 37 million Euros. In the meantime, Karaca received a letter from the Kütahya High Criminal Court, which notified him about the indictment.
“At that moment I thought: What am I doing, what is this country doing to me?
It could not be that British investors are talking about millions of investment, while on the other hand, I am worried about my freedom.”
Yunus Karaca, Environment Minister Idris Güllüce and the Minister of National Defense Ismet Yilmaz had given a briefing about the project.
He said: “At some point, we couldn’t do any work. They copied my system and put them in hundreds of buildings. I can’t say anything, we’re under threat. They took the step that cannot enter the merger. I’ve been unable to make money from my own invention.”
“I started facing difficulties paying workers’ wages. I sold my house. Then, on May 15, 2018, we went abroad crossing Evros(Meriç River)-a geographical border between Greece and Turkey-. The following week, the court issued a warrant against me.”
“When we decided to go through Meriç, I told the kids we were going to rafting. They didn’t go to school that day. The children were curiously waiting. We passed Meriç against intense bushes. The bushes were so frequent and high that we couldn’t take steps. My wife, two kids aged 7 and 13 had to bear with that.”
“When I couldn’t move through the bushes, I wore my coat on my back. I put my backpack on. I started to throw myself on the bushes. Of course, 100 pounds. Where I fell, I crushed the bushes. We crossed the bushy area, riding such a horse. After 4.5 hours, we surrendered to the Greek police. The Greeks were very kind. Two days in custody, the cops brought biscuits and juice for the kids. Like everyone else, we were also surprised by this kindness. My older daughter was affected in custody. I said to her we were going rafting but instead, she became a survivor.”
After a brief stay in Greece, Karaca and his family moved to Germany where they now live a better life.
Most importantly, Karaca has started to practice again. Moreover, unlike in the past, this time with the support of the state.
“We are very happy in Germany. We have a session. The asylum interviewer listened to me for nine hours. I spoke about my projects, my awards. He told me how he thought Turkey was crazy. He couldn’t make sense of the kidnapping of grown people.”
Karaca said during his stay in the camp, friends in Germany arranged some interviews about his work areas. We spoke to German experts, told them about my projects. He said they will give them dealerships. What we were trying to do in Turkey was to nationalise the project. With the British one, we will have an offer from the German State Technology Transfer Office. Investment value has increased a lot here. The investors are talking about 100 million Euros.
Karaca is very happy with his support in Germany. But still not been able to overcome the pressure of living in Turkey:
“I feel democracy in Germany. Sometimes I wake up seeing nightmares. When I stepped into Greece, I didn’t give a damn when I was jumping on his back, because I was free, I was out of the psychology of print.”
My mother’s prayer was always: “You live in heaven in the world, in the hereafter we have seen it in the world.” I think my mother’s prayer was accepted. The Germans are very kind to us and we are going to evaluate our abilities. They’re giving us language training. The salary, food and child benefits are great. In Turkey, I always sent my children to private schools. The public schools here are like private schools.
“I bought a car. You can buy a car for 800 euros here. It seems to me God has given me the time I destroyed in order to be useful to the nation. I’m always running, and we’re the new family.
Karaca also touched on the imprisoned NASA employee, Serkan Gölge. He said his detention was painful as it seems Turkey is targeting those associated with NASA.
It has been largely reported that at the moment refugees leaving Turkey are mostly white-collar ones. “Our German tutor kept on telling us how he never had such students like us before. German authorities want to work with positive, reliable people.”