Dismissed teacher can’t find job even as waiter

Dismissed teacher can’t find job even as waiter

He and his wife had been teachers for 10 years. We only know him by his initials H.Ü. Both of them were dismissed from their jobs they loved with a state of emergency decree on Sept. 1, 2016; whereas, after the coup attempt of last year they had taken to the streets, rejoicing that it failed, embracing democracy. 

 In his “democracy and human rights” class he would give the example of the execution of former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes as he explained the May 27, 1960 coup d’état. He must have told his students a hundred times: “It is the people’s duty to protect elected governments. Know the value of democracy and protect it.” 

In the last school he taught, he was the only teacher with a performance grade of 100. When he used school premises to charge his phone, he would in return buy stocks of A4 paper and donate it to the school because he did not want to take a person’s share in it unfairly. 

He grew up in a two-room adobe house; he would pray every time there was storm and rain for their house not to collapse. He went to school in very tough conditions and became a teacher. Now, both his parents have cancer. His father is in a serious condition because of what his son is going through even though his chemotherapy process was successful. 

The day after his dismissal, H.Ü. took the city bus in the eastern province Malatya only to realize that his discounted teachers’ travel card was cancelled. H.Ü. has appealed everywhere including the Constitutional Court and administrative courts. He sent petitions to offices of governors; received no replies. With the last emergency decree, domestic legal avenues were closed. Now, courts were to hand over the files without reviewing them to the state of emergency commission. The commission, made up of seven members, will evaluate 120,000 people in two years. A friend of his has calculated and said, “If they work 24 hours, they need to allocate seven minutes to each of us. In seven minutes they will review our files, hear our defense and make a decision; all in seven minutes.”

As a matter of fact, he said, “We should have been investigated, tried and then if we were found guilty, we should have been dismissed, right? Instead of having been proven guilty, we are now trying to prove we are innocent.” 

He hasn’t been able to find a job for nine months. Even if he wanted to be a waiter, they would ask him “Are you affected by the state of emergency? Sorry, my teacher, but that would put us in trouble.” The family is surviving with the help of relatives. Some of their relatives do not speak to them because they think they are traitors. 

If he did not have faith he would not have been able to endure this test, he said. When he told the police who took his testimony, “I have two sons; I do not even buy toy guns for them. I make up many excuses. Now, I am being accused of being a member of an armed network,” the police officer had tears in his eyes. He was detained for seven days. They told him, “Give a name, no matter what, and you will go home for dinner.” He told them he did not even know why he was there and he would stay there for a lifetime, but would never smear anybody. 

“I don’t expect you to be an Emile Zola, but can you voice these as a journalist with a conscience?” H.Ü. asked me.

My heart goes out to him. “My biggest fear is that my two sons will resent their country and state because of what has been done to us,” he said. 

The issue is not the 120,000 people dismissed; together with their families maybe we are talking about 1 million people. This is likely to cause a sociological trauma in the society in the future, do we ever think of that?
The fight should continue with fairness and justice instead of revenge and hate. Even if it is one person, the rain should not fall on the just and the unjust equally. What about the children of the victims? Can you imagine what they are living through in their schools? It is not only losing your current job; it is being in a position where you cannot meet your children’s school costs, where you cannot pay for your food. 

H.Ü. is seeking justice, not mercy.