State-owned bank continues declining applications for earthquake assistance loan submitted by post-coup purge victims

Turkish state-owned Vakıfbank is continuing to decline applications filed by individuals who were fired from the civil service following a July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey for a loan that is being offered to people displaced by deadly earthquakes in southern Turkey in early February, the TR724 news website reported.

According to lawyer Kemal Uçar, an application submitted by a former police officer who is living in the southern province of Hatay, which was among the provinces hit hardest by the earthquakes, for an earthquake assistance loan was rejected by a Vakıfbank branch in the province due to his dismissal from the civil service.

The same bank earlier declined the request of former prosecutor Vedat Demir and his family, who were living in Kahramanmaraş, another southern province.

Uçar accused the bank of committing crimes against humanity. 

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of the failed coup that remained in effect until July 19, 2018. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 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.

Turkey’s former public servants were not only fired from their jobs after the coup attempt; 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.

Post-coup purge victims have been facing discrimination in public services and humanitarian assistance even if they were directly affected by the earthquakes.

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) announced a scholarship program for students who were affected by earthquakes, stating that individuals who were dismissed by emergency decrees are not eligible to apply.

Another purge victim and his family haven’t been allowed to stay in a student dormitory that was allocated to people displaced by the deadly earthquakes.

The purge victims are also not allowed to take advantage of a recently announced tax amnesty. In line with the law, people who owed back taxes, administrative fines, student loans, traffic fines or social security premiums prior to December 31, 2022 will be able to pay the amount due in 48 equal installments.

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