Disabled woman loses health benefits over son-in-law’s alleged Gulen links

A district governor’s office in Turkey has cut off a disabled woman’s health care benefits due to her son-in-law’s alleged connections to the Gulen network, the T24 news portal reported citing a lawmaker on Sunday.

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, an MP from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a human rights activist, on Saturday, talked about the case during a press conference at the parliament in Ankara.

The lawmaker indicated that the Ortahisar district governor’s office of Turkey’s north-eastern Trabzon province cut off the health care benefits of the gravely disabled woman because her son-in-law was a public servant sacked from his job through a government decree.

During two years of emergency rule, which was declared in wake of a coup attempt that targeted the ruling AK Party (AKP) in July 2016, more than 125,000 civil servants in Turkey were sacked or suspended from their professions over suspected links to the Gulen group.

Led by Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim preacher who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, the Gulen movement is designated by Ankara as a terrorist organization.

The Turkish government also accuses the faith-based network of orchestrating the failed coup bid on July 15, 2016, and has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial within the three-year purge targeting the group since then.

Gergerlioglu on Saturday showed the reporters an official document sent by the Ortahisar district governor’s office to the teacher who demanded health care for his disabled mother-in-law.

“This is the document of the unlawfulness carried out during the emergency rule [in Turkey]. This piece of paper documents the way how the emergency decrees issued by the [AKP] government amounts to a genocide,” the MP underlined.

“What kind of a law is this?” Gergerlioglu said, referring to the reply given to the teacher that reportedly says that his mother-in-law cannot receive health care due to him being dismissed from his public sector job during the emergency rule.

“They did not even feel ashamed to write this on the document as a reason [for refusing to give health care to a gravely disabled woman]. I’ve seen similar cases in the past three and a half years [after the attempted coup], but none of them included a document where everything is openly stated,” he explained.

The lawmaker added that the teacher, who experienced financial and emotional difficulties, was then reinstated to his public sector job after the government “released that it was wrong to dismiss him.”

After his reinstatement, Gergerlioglu further stated, the district governor’s office still did not accept his demand that they provide health care benefits for his mother-in-law.

Turkey’s Western allies along with a number of human rights organizations have criticized the scale of the crackdown carried out against the Gulen movement by the country’s governing AKP.

Many of them have held forth that the abortive coup was being used by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an excuse to eliminate critics of his government.

The president, who previously vowed to eradicate Gulen’s network, has defended the measures as a necessary response to the scale of the security threat that his country faces.

Both Gulen and the members of his movement strongly deny any coup-related charges as well as links to any terror activities.

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