Zekeriya Burak Altınok, one of thousands of police officers removed from their jobs on terrorism charges in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, has died in a clash with terrorists while performing his compulsory military service in eastern Turkey, according to his lawyer.
Altınok, 32, was removed from his job as a police officer by a decree issued by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in December 2017.
Normally, police officers are exempt from compulsory military service in Turkey. Since Altınok was no longer a police officer, he was required to serve and was sent to eastern Ağrı province.
On Oct. 20 he was injured in a clash with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists in Ağrı’s Doğubeyazıt district and died in a hospital on Oct. 22, his lawyer Ahmet Demirci announced from his Twitter account.
Altınok, who is survived by his wife and two children, was to be laid to rest on Wednesday.
According to Demirci, Altınok remained behind bars in pre-trial detention for 16 months on terrorism charges and received a jail sentence, but the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that there were no grounds justifying the punishment.
Many social media users were outraged by the death of Altınok, saying that an innocent police officer labeled as a terrorist by the government was killed while fighting terrorists for his country.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.