On November 21, 2017, the Greek Coast guards in the Mytilene Island found bodies of a family of 5, drowned while trying to cross the Aegean Sea. This tragedy of the teachers, father and mother, and their 3 kids is just like a summary of the mass persecution towards Hizmet movement members in Turkey.
Huseyin Maden was a 40-year-old science teacher and his wife, Nur Maden, was a 36 year old preschool teacher. The family resided in Kastamonu with their daughters Nadire (13) and Nur (10) and their son Feridun (7). Huseyin Maden used to work at a public school before he was expelled from his profession with a decree law after July 15. Then, he was investigated with the accusation of “being a member of a terrorist organization”. Fearing getting arrested and leaving the kids alone, the couple had decided hide from the police.
They managed to hide in different places for a year but police had searched for them in their own house several times. In the mean time, Huseyin Maden was trying to make ends meet with a job that had no insurance and made $250 a month. However, the pressure on Hizmet Movement members was getting heavier each day and Huseyin Maden decided to go abroad with the last money that was left. They had lost most of their savings due to getting expelled from their jobs, and seizure of their possessions by the government. According to the information their family gave, Huseyin Maden made contact with several smugglers but he just did not have enough money to afford the fees asked for a family of 5.
So, he borrowed some money from his friends to add what was left in him, and he bought an old boat. Without knowing how to use a boat, he decided to take his family to the Mytilene Island of Greece and seek asylum there.
His friend, whom he went to borrow some money from, described his last night: “We did not sleep till the morning prayer, and we converse
d. He told me about his second hand clothing that he bought only for $2.5. We did the morning prayer together, he even led the prayer. I was asleep afterwards; he woke me up before leaving. I walked with him and we said our goodbyes. He was carrying his stuff in a plastic bag. Lastly, he said “I really don’t want to go but we have no option. I don’t know anyone there. We are going to an uncertain future”. I asked how much money he had and he said “only about $1500. Allah is great.” Then he said goodbye. I don’t usually cry but watching him leave like that, I shed a few tears. There was a different sadness in our home.
Then, 40-year-old science teacher Huseyin Maden sailed through the wild waves of the Aegean Sea with his family. The next thing that was heard from them was the final text message he sent to his family: “ We saw the lights, getting ashore soon”.
Twenty days had passed after his last message. Their families tried to comfort themselves with the thought of them “at least” getting arrested and put in a refugee camp in Mytilene Island. Their calls were never answered.
However, the bodies of 3 kids washed ashore on Lesbos Beach of Mytilene Island: the bodies of two girls and a boy. The description of Greek police gave completely matched with Maden family’s kids. Also, there was no trace of that family in the refugee camps.
BURIEDBecause of the severe decomposition by seawater, it has stated that the kids’ bodies had to be buried after taking their DNA samples.
Although their relatives in Turkey are struggling to get to Greece and take the deceased, they haven’t gotten their visa yet to cross the border.
A SUCCESSFUL TEACHER
Huseyin Maden was a very successful physics teacher. The details about the science fair once he partnered with TUBITAK are still posted on the official website of the Ministry of National Education. In the official website; “the TUBITAK 4006 Science Fair that was conducted by our physics teacher Huseyin Maden, was carried out in May 22-23, 2015 thanks to the devoted work of our teachers and students.”
WHY HE LEFT TURKEY
According to the information Huseyin Maden’s friends gave, he was struggling with serious health problems although he was only 40.
He had undergone surgeries on his kidney, liver and spleen. Therefore he was worried about his health problems could deteriorate and risk his life if he was to be arrested. Besides, there was an arrest warrant issued for his wife, and it was unacceptable to leave the three kids without both of the parents.
After Huseyin Maden was expelled and his properties were seized, his financial situation was getting really worse. The kids were unab
le to get their education because the family had to hide. All of these reasons made the family take risks, condemned to social death in Turkey, and tried to flee to Greece, which costs their lives.