23 people detained in Turkey for finding jobs for summarily dismissed public servants

File photo.

The Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday detained 23 people on suspicion of finding jobs for public servants who were summarily dismissed from their positions by executive decrees and providing financial and emotional support to them, Turkish media reported.

Twelve suspects were arrested for alleged membership in the Gülen movement, while the others were released under judicial supervision. The suspects were charged with meeting regularly as an act of solidarity with a “terrorist” group and helping persecuted members of the movement find accommodation and jobs.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016 and labels it a terrorist organization. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup or any terrorist activity.

Following the attempted coup, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. Over 540,000 people were detained on terrorism-related charges, more than 80,000 were arrested or imprisoned and over 150,000 public servants were fired for alleged membership in or ties to “terrorist organizations.” The purge mainly targeted people who were allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement but included other people from a wide variety of backgrounds as well.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a prominent human rights activist and a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), tweeted that the arrests were atrocious. “One of the women arrested was 60 years old! What are people waiting for to raise their voices against this injustice?” Gergerlioğlu asked.

Gergerlioğlu referred to former police chief Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu, whose post-mortem photographs were revealed showing his lifeless body sitting in plastic chair in a filthy and damp prison cell and said these atrocities were systematic.

Civil servants who were summarily dismissed have been consistently targeted by the government. The Turkish parliament’s executive board on the first day of the new legislative year voted to forbid former employees of parliament who were sacked from their jobs after January 1, 2015 from entering the parliament premises.

The Justice for Victims Platform, an advocacy group for people who have been unjustly prosecuted and discriminated against, and Gergerlioğlu released a joint report in July that said the two-year-long state of emergency declared after the coup in Turkey caused immense suffering among civil servants who were dismissed from their jobs by the government as well as their families.

“The decree-law victims not only were removed from their jobs but also barred from seeking employment in the private sector and denied access to social security benefits,” Gergerlioğlu said at a July press briefing for the report.

The dismissed civil servants lost 70 percent of their average monthly income, a circumstance that reduced them to dire financial straits, according to a survey conducted for the joint report.

The survey indicates that 99.1 percent of the victims are college or university graduates or holders of master’s or doctoral degrees, which means an immense loss of human resources for Turkey’s public administration.

According to the victims’ family members taking part in the survey, the biggest problem they have been facing is economic hardship (97.9 percent), followed by psychological problems (88.6 percent), loss of social prestige and social exclusion (83.7 percent), disintegration of social circles (83.1 percent), unemployment/lack of employment (80.4 percent) and lack of social security (73.2 percent).

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