State-owned bank declines application for earthquake assistance loan submitted by post-coup purge victim

Turkish state-owned Vakıfbank has declined the request of a former prosecutor who was fired from the civil service following a July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey and his wife for a loan that is being offered to people displaced by deadly earthquakes in southern Turkey in early February, the Kronos news website reported.

Former prosecutor Vedat Demir and his family were living in the southern Turkish province of Kahramanmaraş, which was among the 11 provinces hit hardest by earthquakes on February 6 that have claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people in Turkey and northern Syria.

They first had to move to Hatay and then to Ankara in the aftermath of the earthquakes. They needed financial support to settle in Ankara; however, his wife’s application for a loan offered to earthquake survivors was rejected by a Vakıfbank branch in Ankara due to her husband’s dismissal from the civil service.

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) earlier 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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