Leader of main opposition vows to reinstate decree-law victims

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (file photo)

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on Thursday that he will reinstate former officials removed from their jobs by emergency decree-laws known as KHKs if they win the next general election, Turkish media reported.

Speaking to a group of civil society representatives in Çorum, Kılıçdaroğlu said, “My word is my bond; I will reinstate all those who were dismissed, fired, whose livelihoods were taken away.”

Following an abortive putsch in July 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Former civil servants were not only fired from their jobs; they were also banned 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.

Kılıçdaroğlu said he would reinstate all victims of the purge “unless they were involved in terrorism.”

“The institution of politics cannot interfere with people’s livelihoods and jobs,” he added.

The post-coup crackdown mainly targeted followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating the abortive putsch.

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.

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