Dismissed teacher reinstated 2 years after her death from cancer

Emine Yürükçü, a teacher who was fired from her job by a government decree without due process, has been reinstated two years after her death on June 12, 2019, sparking outrage among human rights activists.

Yürükçü was fired in August 2016, together with her husband Musa Yürükçü, for alleged links to the Gülen movement based on membership in a teachers union.

Musa Yürükçü shared the news on Twitter and said his wife was suffering from cancer when she was fired.

“Are those who were saying she wouldn’t have been fired if she weren’t guilty online?” he asked. “To those who say, ‘You’ll be reinstated if you’re innocent’: Justice delayed is justice denied.”

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.

Following the failed coup, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions against its political opponents under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. In addition to firing more than 130,000 civil servants as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, the government also shut down 164 media organizations, 1,058 educational institutions and 1,769 NGOs with emergency decree-laws without any due process. The victims were not allowed to contest the decisions in court.

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.

As of December 31, 2020 the commission had made decisions on 112,310 of a total of 126,630 applications. It ruled in favor of the applicants in only 13,170 of the cases.

In its Turkey 2020 report, the European Commission (EC) raised serious concerns about the ability of the commission to provide an effective remedy against dismissals. The report criticized the lengthy review procedures and underlined that the applicants did not have a proper means of defense as the commission does not hold hearings. The EC also said the commission did not have sufficiently individualized criteria to evaluate the applications.

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