Turkey has denied funeral service to Halil Dinc, a teacher who died of a heart attack in Greece where he was seeking asylum from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

The 45-year-old educator passed away following a heart attack. A funding campaign launched in solidarity with his wife and three children said the family crossed Turkey-Greece border some 25 days ago. “All the hardship he endured for two years was too much for his heart. He passed away after suffering a heart attack in Athens. He left behind a widow, three kids and thousands of students. Not only did he leave behind his kids as orphans, but also his students as well,” the campaign reads.

Meanwhile, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu tweeted Saturday that the teacher was denied funeral service back in his hometown.

“The mufti in Vakfikebir refused to assign an imam for Dinc’s funeral and did not allow sela [Salat al-janazah] to be recited,” Gergerlioglu said.

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

More than 150,000 people have been detained and some 80,000 including academics, judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers, students, policemen and many from different backgrounds have been put in pre-trial detention since last summer.

Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others.

On Feb 13, at least three people died and five others were missing after a boat carrying a group of eight capsized in the Evros River while seeking to escape a post-coup crackdown in Turkey.

“45 years old Dinc loved his job, excelled at it and was a very hardworking teacher. His school was shut down after July 15, 2016 (bizarre) coup attempt. His license to work was revoked. He was forced into poverty and hardship. Similar to thousands of other teachers, he also faced an investigation. For this reason, he had to live away from his family for two years. Even when he was sought for arrest, he had made efforts to help families of his colleagues facing similar pressure and legal challenges. 

Dr. Halil Dinc was born in Trabzon’s Vakfikebir district in 1972. He started working as a teacher at Van Private Serhat High School after graduating from Turkish Language and Literature at Ankara’s Gazi University. After working as a teacher in Sivas, Sinop, and Samsun, he had been working in Ankara since 2007. Finally, he was the principal at Samanyolu Cemal Sasmaz Science High School between 2012 and 2016. 

In addition to his career as a teacher, he also pursued his academic work and completed his doctorate at Gazi University on Early History Turkish Literature. Halil Dinc was also leading a team that produced world champions. His students’ secured world championship title with “Overcome Borders” movie at International Infomatix Short Movie Contest. Then-Prime Minister Erdogan himself handed out the awards to Dinc’s students Afet Keskin and Nihal Ozgur,” the campaign for Dinc’s family further stated.