At least 110 thousand dismissed public servants applied for Turkey’s controversial OHAL Commission

At least 110,000 former public servants, who had been suspended with the statutory decrees that the government issued under the rule of emergency which was declared in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, have submitted their applications to the OHAL Commission which received last applications on September 14, 2017.

As a solution to suppress outcry from Turkish public and international organizations over rights violations and arbitrariness, Turkish government had established the OHAL Commission which began receiving applications from former public employees suspended from their posts on July 17, 2017 has ended the period for applications on September 14, 2017.

Deputy Prime Minister and government’s spokesperson Bekir Bozdag said that according to figures released on the last day the number of complaints is close to the total of those who were discharged with statutory decrees.

However, the OHAL Commission will wait for the applicants’ personal files and administrative investigation findings to come from courts and the related institutions that they used to work for. By merging incoming documents with the application files, the Commission will take its first decision towards the end of the year 2017.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Şenal Sarıhan had assessed the aim and the work burden of the Commission by stating that “According to calculations, every file will have only 65 second-long investigation. Giving seconds to a file means that the files will not, in fact, be reviewed. That is why, I think the Commission is like a stillborn child. What is right is to make regular legal mechanisms to work. There is a deception for the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The ECtHR thinks that OHAL Commission is a functioning domestic remedy. However, with this regulation, people were both prevented from getting a result from ECtHR and making individual applications at the Turkey’s Constitutional Court (AYM). ”

The observers underlined the fact that it will not be even a matter of discussion that the objections for OHAL or arising from the statutory decree. For example, 22,000 teachers whose licenses have been canceled by the statutory decrees in the private schools are not seen eligible to apply the Commission.

Likewise, judges and prosecutors have not been suspended due to the lists attached to the government decrees, but were dismissed with the decisions taken by the related authorities responsible for the institutions they have served. For example, it is still not clear how the OHAL Commission will handle the decision of suspension given by Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, Constitutional Court and the military justice.

CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu has pointed out that the victims of the last 1 year were not just those who worked in the public sector but also the people who used to work in other professional and educational spheres from military students to the ones whose licenses revoked with a much wider area. According to Tanrıkulu, limiting the scope of the OHAL Commission’s mandate
and authority alone shows that this commission is not an effective remedy for rights violations.

Tanrıkulu stated that the new limit for the applications to the OHAL Commission arises a new situation and that those who can
not apply in this case can try for the administrative court, the Council of State and the Constitutional Court.

DESPERATE VICTIMS DO NOT FIND THE GOVERNMENT’S MOVE SINCERE

ECtHR’s requirement of “run out of domestic jurisdictions” for application forced the Turkish government to form the OHAL Commission, as a kind of formality. With the establishment of OHAL Commission, the decision of ECtHR such as remitter or compensation has been prevented. According to complaints the government established the commission to take the process as slowly as possible, reducing reaction of victims and digesting them easily after dissemination of the solution over the years were aimed.

It is foreseen by the victims, who could not find a job anywhere, the violations of their living rights will produce new Nuriye Gülmens and Semih Özakças. As it is known, despite the hunger strike of over 190 days, imprisoned Gülmen and Özakça were not returned to their jobs. Because, with the new return regulation, returning the vested rights has not been aimed. It is predicted that
government’s placement of victims in institutions can be considered exile rather than the institution that the former ones was targeted. It is very likely that the OHAL Commission will make a positive decision about  mistakenly dismissed government supporters, and only they will be returned to their jobs.

The Commission shall be responsible for dismissal from public service, severance of ties with the student, closure of the institutions such as associations, foundations, trade unions, federations and confederations, private health institutions, private education institutions, higher education institutions, magazines, news agencies, publishing houses and distribution channels and
so on. However the Commission will not be able to decide on military students who are suspended under the emergency rule, public officials who have been struck off by institutional decisions, and persons for whom Ministry of Education has canceled their teaching license.

Quorum for decision and meeting will be four people. The Commission will make its review only through the file and will give a rejection or acceptance of the application. In order to categorize applicants, the files with 9 different colours will be used.

In the aftermath of the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, 26 decree laws (KHK) have been issued under the rule of emergency (OHAL) declared on July 20, 2016. So far 111 thousand 240 public officials were dismissed from their duties with these KHKs, 32 thousand 180 officials were struck off. To date, there are 47 private health institutions, 881 private educational institutions, 108 private student dormitories, 104 foundations, 1,409 associations, 19 trade unions, 15 private universities, 5 news agencies, 17 TV channels, 22 radio channels, 46 newspapers, 20 journals, 29 publishing houses / distribution companies closed.

After victims have started to apply the ECtHR, the OHAL Commission was decided to be set up as an interim mechanism in January allegedly to reduce the grievances in the process of dismissal. However the commission led by openly Erdoğanist Deputy Undersecretary of the Justice Ministry, Selahaddin Menteş, has been criticized for being biased.

The commission has 7 members and consists of Mehmet Karagöz, Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Court of Appeals; General Director of Prison and Detention Houses, Judge Esat Işık, Deputy Inspector Murat Aytaç, Deputy Chief Inspector Hasan Işıldak, Mustafa İkbal, Head of Appointment Department of MoNE and Salih Tanrıkulu, Member of State Audit Board. With 40 judges, 40 inspectors,  90 experts and clerks The Commission has about 200 personnels.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, 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.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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