A 9-year-old Turkish girl named Nurefşan Teke was killed after a boat carrying a group of asylum seekers capsized in the Maritsa River on March 4, 2021.

Nurefşan and her mother Neslihan Teke reportedly wanted to reunite with the father who reportedly fled to an African country from Turkey last year in order to avoid an ongoing government crackdown on alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Because they were denied passports by the Turkish authorities, the mother-daughter decided to flee Turkey via illegal means. The boat that carried them, however, capsized in the river early on March 4, causing the death of Nurefşan.

Her body was reportedly found close to the scene of the accident sometime afternoon.

Following the incident, The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu broadcasted an interview with the mother Neslihan Teke on social media. During the interview, the deputy also talked about previous incidents, in which tens of women, men and children who died trying to flee to Greece over Maritsa River in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 15, 2016.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The government accuses the movement of masterminding the coup, while the movement denies any involvement.

Some 500,000 people have been investigated, and nearly 97,000 including academics, judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers, students, policemen and others have been put in pretrial detention since the coup attempt. Meanwhile, 150,000 people have lost their jobs in the government’s post-coup purge of state institutions.

Many tried to flee Turkey illegally as the government had cancelled thousands of passports.