Purge victim claims his fields were set on fire in apparent hate crime

Celallettin Tokmak, a former teacher who was summarily dismissed from his job with a government decree, said his fields were set on fire in what appears to be a hate crime, the TR7/24 news website reported.

Tokmak started farming in his hometown of Sivas in Central Turkey after he was dismissed as a teacher. He tweeted yesterday that his fields had been set on fire and that there was nearly 25,000 liras (2,600 euros) in damage.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu condemned the incident from his Twitter account, saying former public servants were deliberately targeted and deprived of income.

Following an abortive putsch on July 15, 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. Over 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors as well as 20,571 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 public servants have frequently been targeted in the media, making them susceptible to stigmatization and hate crimes. Earlier this year, Numan Kurtulmuş, deputy general of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said it was wrong to feel sympathy and compassion for purged public servants.

Purge victims 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 discrimination extends to many walks of life, including daily banking activities. Turkish banks continue to deny basic services to civil servants summarily fired by the Turkish government in the aftermath of the coup.

Speaking to the Ahval news website in January, one purge victim said he was financially paralyzed immediately after he was fired. “I was dismissed by a government decree on Saturday. In April 2017,” he said. “By Monday, all my credit cards were canceled. My bank accounts were frozen.”

According to a joint report prepared by The Justice for Victims Platform and Gergerlioğlu, the purge caused immense suffering among public servants who were dismissed from their jobs by the government.

“The decree-law victims not only were removed from their jobs but also barred from seeking employment in the private sector and denied access to social security benefits,” said Gergerlioğlu.

The dismissed civil servants lost 70 percent of their average monthly income, a circumstance that reduced them to dire financial straits, according to a survey conducted for the joint report.

Apart from economic difficulties they also faced further exclusions and bans. The Turkish parliament’s executive board on the first day of the new legislative year voted to forbid former employees of parliament who were dismissed from their jobs after January 1, 2015 from entering the parliament premises.

The regulation was proposed as part of changes to parliament’s security measures and was adopted with a majority of votes.

The survey indicates that 99.1 percent of the victims are college or university graduates or holders of master’s or doctoral degrees, which means an immense loss of human resources for Turkey’s public administration.

According to the victims’ family members taking part in the survey, the biggest problem they have been facing is economic hardship (97.9 percent) followed by psychological problems (88.6 percent), loss of social prestige and social exclusion (83.7 percent), disintegration of social circles (83.1 percent), unemployment/lack of employment (80.4 percent) and lack of social security (73.2 percent), respectively.

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