Which One Is More Difficult: Combatting Azrael (Angel of Death) or Turkish Bureaucracy?

A terminally-ill professor’s quest for medical treatment abroad galvanized public. Authorities are dragging their foot for allowing him to travel.

Abdullah Ayasun
3 min readMay 16, 2019


Professor Haluk Savas.

“My expected life left is 39 months, 30 of which already passed. It seems that I’ll spend the remaining nine months by communicating with various departments of the state,” a cancer patient lamented on Twitter on Monday.

Professor Haluk Savas, who was sacked by a government decree in 2016 along with more than 150,000 public workers, finally took to Twitter in a desperate plea to make his case known by the whole world. He was driven by a sense of as much urgency as despair in the face of a wall of negligence on the part of authorities.

Earlier this year, he was acquitted of all coup-related and terrorism charges. Yet, the former Psychiatry professor is unable to return to his post. Punishing unemployment aside, he is now combatting cancer, which recently resurfaced again.

But his renewed fight is not without challenges. Although charges against him were dropped and the travel ban lifted, his bid for travel ran into a series of new problems when he went to Adana Governor’s Office on Monday.

Officials told him that his passport was canceled and they are unable to issue a new one. He vented his frustration and exasperation on Twitter in a series of tweets documenting the absurdity and travesty of the whole affair.

His plea, however, galvanized the public, stirring tens of thousands of people to action to demand a passport for him. #HalukSavasaPasaport (Passport for Haluk Savas) became a hit on social media, with thousands outpouring support for him.

“This is my basic human right. If the Turkish state and government are not giving me my basic right as a human, that means the state is not practising basic international law…



Abdullah Ayasun

New York-based journalist and writer. Columbia School of Journalism. 2023 White House Correspondents' Association Scholar. Twitter: @abyasun