Halil Dinç was just one of the thousands of teachers, who had been stripped from basic human rights in his home country during the Annihilation Period, and one of those who had to take the dangerous trip on Maritsa river with his family. He was able to cross the river safe and sound. However, his heart could not cope with what he had been through since July 15. Shortly after moving to Athens, on August 16, Halil Dinç passed away.

Wherever he went, he was boosting the morale of his friends. Nevertheless, this whole situation did not make any sense for him and it made him very sorrowful inside. He was declared as a terrorist in his beloved country, many of his fellow teachers were jailed, and he was feeling their pain in his heart. After July 15, somebody had planted drugs in the school they were working at. He went through and coped with many challenges, but he could not get over the heart attack.

For the burial process, his body was sent to Turkey, to his hometown Trabzon-Vakfıkebir. At Trabzon airport, just his son İhsan and brothers in law had come to take his body. Even his brother did not come to airport because of the oppression and fear from the government. The city mufti of that time, Hüseyin Köksal, did not allow reciting of the azan, and also he prevented assignment of an imam for Halil’s funeral.

The headmaster of Ankara Samanyolu Cemal Şaşmaz Girls Highschool, Halil Dinç, had left his son in Turkey and headed towards Athens with his wife and two daughter. The family was able to reach Athens in 12 days, after the refugee prison and refugee camp. Although they found a guest house and settled, they were planning to move towards another country, where the democratic standards were higher, human rights were respected and they could live peacefully. Halil Teacher was doing his best to boost the morale of family during this period, which was depressing both financially and psychologically. However, his own heart was very tired.

The day he passed away, he prepared a nice breakfast for his family, and afterwards went to shopping with his wife. When they came back home, he saw his daughter sad. He decided to take her out to cheer her up a little. He started preparing; he shaved and went into shower. Shortly after he called his wife. When Mrs. Dinç came, she found Halil laying on the floor. He was unconscious. Mrs. Dinç is telling that day as follows: My daughter and I carried him out of the bathroom. We were alone at home. We did not know anyone, nor any language. I called my friends and told them to call an ambulance. His heart had stopped. I hit the bottom of desperation; I lost my other half in a foreign land. Athens has fallen apart and I was under the ruins.

After she sent the body of her husband to Turkey, she was alone with her two daughters in Athens. She had no idea about how to move on. If she goes back to Turkey, she would get arrested. Even though her relatives were saying “please come back, you would be prisoned just for a couple of years and then released”, she decided to go on for her children. They decided to go to Belgium, but this was not easy at all. Her 18 years old daughter Ahsen started to have panic attacks, she drastically lost weight until 45kg due to sorrow.

After a long and painful journey and losing their father half way, the mother and her children were able to reach Belgium. İhsan, last kid that remained in Turkey, was on his way after his father’s funeral, and ultimately they all met in Belgium.

Before his death, literature teacher Halil Dinç had composed a poem about his emotions, the injustices that they lived during the Annihilation Period and their journey to Athens for freedom. His poem Geçtim Meriç’ten (I passed Maritsa)”, has become a morale and hope for many refugees using that road. The t-shirt and cap he wore when crossing the river have remained as a memory from those painful but hopeful days.

GEÇTİM MERİÇ’TEN

Dünyam bir el çantasında.
Yok oldu bir mazi hiçten.
Acı, zorlu talihime,
Gülerek geçtim Meriç’ten.

Tarihin başından beri
Yaşanan, bitmeyen göçten
Yok kimseye imtiyazı
Bilerek geçtim Meriç’ten.

Bir zehirden iftirâyı
-Duydum sen say ki baldıran-
Kırk beş yıllık hâtırâyı
Silerek geçtim Meriç’ten.

Sırtımda bir urba ardan
Kalbim güvercin yüreği
Hem serden geçtim hem yardan
-Geride mağmum dostlarım-
Dolarak geçtim Meriç’ten

Tohumlar bıraktım orda
Semâya ser çeksin diye
Bebek, anne, yağız yiğit
Rahim Allah’a hediye

Hicret, evet bâkiyesi
Hicranlı duygular, içten
Vatana son bakış, yaslı
Bir akşam geçtim Meriç’ten.