Turkey’s Education Ministry has made a “necessary falsification” on its records shortly after a devoted physics teacher, removed from his job in the government’s post-coup purge, drowned along with his family while fleeing further persecution to Greece.

Huseyin Maden, a 40-year-old educator in Kastamonu province until he was dismissed by a government’s post-coup emergency decree, was drowned along with his wife Nur Maden, also a dismissed teacher, and his three children, aged 13, 10 and 7, before they managed to reach to the Greek island of Lesvos in a boat the teacher paid for out of his own pocket. The incident made it to the news only days after their bodies washed up on the coasts of the island, drawing backlash from not only opposition but also pro-government circles.

Shortly after the related news articles went viral, the Education Ministry has acted quickly to remove from its website a 2-year-old statement that praises Maden’s committed work in organizing a science fair, attended by Zafer Sag, then district governor of Kastamonu’s Daday district.

“The TUBITAK [The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey] 4006 Science Fair, led by our physics teacher Huseyin Maden, was held with the help of our teachers’ and students’ devoted works, on May 22-23, 2015,” a statement at the Education Ministry’s website said in a subpage for Daday Multi-Program High School, a former workplace of the deceased teacher.

“No content was found,” the statement’s link read at the time of this writing on Nov 24.

Turkey survived a failed military coup on July 15, 2016 for which the government blames the Gulen movement, a claim the latter denies.

Some 130,000 people have been detained and nearly 60,000 including academics, judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers, students, policemen and many from different backgrounds have been put in pre-trial detention since last summer. Meanwhile, 150,000 people have lost their jobs in the government’s post-coup purge of state institutions.

Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others. The Maden family were being reportedly sought by the police over their alleged links to the Gülen group before they died in the Aegean Sea. Earlier, Mustafa Zumre, a Turkish IT specialist drowned in the Evros river between Greece and Turkey while escaping from the post-coup crackdown in a similar way. 

The Ministry of Truth refers to the fictitious propaganda machine, tasked to doctor historic events in favor of the government’s narrative, in George Orwell’s dystopia novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

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