Ismet Sözen, an elementary school teacher until he was dismissed by a government decree issued under post-coup emergency rule in 2016, is now earning his keep by working as a night-shift receptionist at a hotel in Bursa province.

According to Cumhuriyet newspaper, Sözen was dismissed by the government decree, like some 40,000 other teachers.

With 25 years of experience in teaching, Sözen was removed from his position at a primary school in Bitlis province, on Oct 29, 2016. “I did nothing that has given damage to this country,” Sözen says.

The father of three depended on support from neighbors and Egitim-Sen educators’ union for some time and then moved from Bitlis to Bursa.

“I moved out of Bitlis just to forget it all. I am working for minimum wage at one of my relatives’ place. He/she hired me just because we are relatives. I work from 11 pm to 7 am,” he said.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement. The movement denies involvement in the abortive coup.

In line with a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the foiled coup, Turkey sacked some 40,000 from the Education Ministry alone, most of whom teachers, over their alleged links to the Gulen movement or the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Overall, more than 155,000 lost their jobs, over 125,000 were detained and 56,000 were arrested since last year. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors, housewives and even football referees.

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