Dismissed police officer, killed in construction site accident, reinstated to job

A former police officer who died in a work accident at a construction site in November, where he made his living following his dismissal from law enforcement after a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, has been reinstated to his job, Turkish Minute reported.

Yurdal Gökçe, 41, was one of the more than 130,000 civil servants who were expelled from public service under an emergency rule following the coup attempt on the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

Gökçe’s death was announced on Twitter on Nov. 29 by human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu. “Yurdal Gökçe died today after falling from the roof of a building under construction,” he said. “His case was with the appeals commission for five years, and he was waiting to be reinstated.”

Yet, the news about Gökçe’s reinstatement came on Dec. 29, one month after his death.

The State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission (OHAL Commission), which was established in January 2017 for appeals against measures taken by the Turkish government during the two-year state of emergency declared after the abortive putsch, decided to reinstate Gökçe to his job as a police officer.

An online platform representing post-coup purge victims announced the news of the reinstatement on Twitter with a photo of Gökçe, his grave and the official decision reinstating him.

“How many reinstatements after death have there been? We don’t want the restoration of our rights after we die,” the platform tweeted.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. The crackdown also targeted political opponents of the government, Kurdish activists and human rights defenders, among others. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs, they were also prohibited from working again in the public sector and getting a passport. The government also made it difficult for them to work formally in the private sector. Notes were put on the social security database about dismissed public servants to deter potential employers.

The OHAL Commission was established as an appeals body under pressure from the Council of Europe in order to relieve the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) of a huge workload emanating from tens of thousands of Turkish applicants who couldn’t take their cases to Turkish courts.

According to critics, the commission’s role is simply to delay or prevent possible ECtHR decisions against Turkey. The commission is also accused of bias as it is led by former Justice Ministry deputy undersecretary Selahaddin Menteş, who had been openly supportive of President Erdoğan.

There have been many other former public servants who have been reinstated to their jobs after they died.

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