3,974 public officials dismissed; 32 NGOs, 2 media outlets closed in Turkey on Saturday

A total of  3,974 public officials were dismissed from their state jobs including 484 academics and 98 administrative university personnel, 1 newspaper, 1 magazine, 14 associations, 18 foundations and 13 clinics were closed with two new decrees (KHK) issued by Turkish government on Saturday.

According to the two executive decrees, published in Turkey’s Official Gazette on Saturday, 447 officers from Turkish Air Force, 141 officers from Turkish Navy, including 13 colonels, 478 officers from Land Forces, including 1 general and 36 colonels, 44 personnel from General Staff and Defense Ministry, 120 officers from Coast Guards, 58 officers from Gendarmerie General Command were also fired.

Also, 484 academics and 98 administrative university personnel were dismissed and the fellowship for 59 students who study abroad were ceased. 201 from the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) and 216 health workers — doctors, nurses, midwives — were also among those purged public officials. The decrees have also banned match-making shows in Turkish TV channels.

Nearly 200 judge trainees who were recruited after a failed coup attempt in Turkey last summer have also been purged by the latest government decree, a main opposition deputy said on Sunday. According to the Gerçek Gündem website, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Barış Yarkadaş said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is in a “paranoia” as it purged nearly 200 judges who were recruited after the failed coup to replace judges purged over their links to faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of being behind the coup attempt.

“Although the judicial candidates had gotten security clearances, all of them were dismissed last night [Saturday] over their links to FETÖ (a derogatory term coined by AKP circles to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization]. They are in the situation not being able to trust judges who they themselves recruited. This is a state of paranoia, and it cannot rule a country,” he said.

According to a recent decree on Saturday, 3,974 civil servants, including 1,127 from the Justice Ministry, were dismissed. Last week, Yarkadaş claimed the ruling AKP recruited for the position of judge 800 lawyers who had ties to the party. He said the AKP government held an examination for judges, saying that there were 1,500 vacancies in Turkish courts. “However, they only recruited 900 judges, 800 of them pro-AKP people,” he said.

Moreover, with a new state of emergency decree,  the Turkish government has created a new neighborhood guard system that in the first phase will employ 7,000 people on Saturday. Neighborhood guards will work under rural branches of the police, according the 690th KHK.

With the latest purge, the number of sacked public employees have exceeded 150,000 since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have also been detained  and 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the coup attempt.

The military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

April 29, 2017

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