Opposition leader says youth 'imprisoned in hopelessness' after death of student at cult-run dorm

Dormitories run by religious cults in Turkey have come under scrutiny once again after a 20-year-old medical student left a suicide note behind talking about the pressure he has been experiencing in one of them. Opposition leader Meral Akşener has called for political unity over the death of young people in the country, saying that Enes Kara was among several "imprisoned in hopelessness."

İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener is seen in this file photo.

Duvar English 

Opposition İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener has called for political unity following the death of medical student Enes Kara, who committed suicide after detailing the oppressive environment in his dormitory run by a religious sect. 

Addressing her lawmakers in parliament on Jan. 12, Akşener said that Turkey has been losing several young people such as Kara as they are "imprisoned in hopelessness." 

"Come, let’s be together with the government and the opposition, let’s eliminate the deaths of women and young people from the lexicon of this country,” she said.

The İYİ Party leader urged the government to take action against these deaths and said that her party is ready for any kind of support.

Stating that they are devastated over the death of Kara, Akşener said his freedom was taken from him and he found his way out unfortunately in suicide as a result of the life he was forced to live. 

She called for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to take action against the deaths of women and young people. “Mr. Erdoğan, you have children and grandchildren, as well. I know you become upset over these deaths just as I do. Our children, young people, and women are killed every week. Tweeting is not enough,” she said. 

Akşener, however, at the same time expressed her doubt that Erdoğan will respond to her call because he is "not [mentally] well recently."

Kara committed suicide on Jan. 10 in the eastern province of Elazığ after he described in a video that the religious sect was forcing him to pray, to attend religious lessons, and to read religious books. His video has been spread all over the internet and the public reaction has been growing against cults and the religious oppression of the government since then.

Reactions from other political and public figures continue to keep coming.

Famous Turkish pop-star Tarkan made a statement on his Twitter account on Jan. 11. He said he cannot describe how sorry he is over the suicide of Kara and emphasized there are thousands of others who are living under fear and oppression, and who lost their hopes and joy of life. He called for parents to support and look out for their children no matter what.

Mayors from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) expressed their sorrows as well. 

“For years, they have handed our children over to some dormitories of foundations, associations and cults. This is why we opened university dormitories for the first time in the history of our municipality. I am so sorry for the loss of Enes Kara. We will support our youth more, no young person will feel alone and helpless," Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu tweeted on Jan 11. 

“We hosted thousands of our young people this year, we will welcome tens of thousands of them next year so that our future will not be trapped in the dark. All institutions where our children stay should be audited, our public dormitory resources should be increased so that we do not lose anymore Enes. I'm so sorry Enes,” Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş tweeted. 

TİP calls for nationalization of cult-run dormitories 

The leader of the leftist Workers' Party of Turkey (TİP) Erkan Baş has said that all cult-run schools and dormitories should be nationalized, and that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is responsible for these deaths.

"Let no one cover up this incident or protect the criminals. The AKP rulership is responsible for this murder," Baş said during a press meeting in parliament on Jan. 11. 

“Until the youth of this country can act in accordance with their own minds and beliefs, and ensure their intellectual and economic independence, none of us will be free. I am really sad. Sorry for our loss,” former AKP member and minister, now opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan tweeted on Jan. 11. 

Babacan held a meeting on Jan. 12 at his party's headquarters, saying that banning these cults and their buildings is not a solution. He said that oppression and unlawful policies just deepen these problems and that this issue should be solved within the frameworks of law.

Meanwhile, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has avoided making a comment with regards to Enes' death saying that he is not posting anything because of ethical concerns.

“We all have to act responsibly. I understand those who are angry with me, but I will not post for ethical reasons. When the time comes, it will be done. I understand and respect the backlash. There are scientific articles about sharing such news. I do not find it right to ignore the warnings of science in order to turn the anger into political points,” Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted. 

While President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has not made any statement about this issue so far, AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik tweeted that they are deeply saddened by the death of Enes.

“What those who propagate a grudge, ideological revenge and separation over the death of a young person do is unethical and never acceptable,” he tweeted on Jan. 11. 

Meanwhile, Kara's father Mehmet Kara talked to Tele1, saying that he was the one who had advised Enes to stay at the relevant dormitory and that he was a member of the cult for the last 25 years. “I have been in this cult for 25 years, I haven’t seen any harm. I thought he would get used to it after a few months. We won’t file a complaint against anyone,” Mehmet Kara said