Survey: 1,2 million people victimised by emergency rule in Turkey

A survey conducted by Turkish rights group has showed that over 1,2 million people were badly affected by losing their economic status, property or with their families falling apart due to the country’s 18-months-long emergency rule.

The Turkish government declared a state of emergency (SoE) in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Over 150,000 people were dismissed from jobs by the government, or arrested by the law enforcement, accused of alleged links to the coup plotters. The names of dismissed civil servants published publicly on the Official Gazette. Over 1,000 civil society organisations and nearly 200 media outlets were shut down during what critics called a large-scale crackdown against country’s political opposition.

The Platform for Rights and Justice, established in 2016 by a group of human rights defenders, to fight united against injustices and violations of human rights that had been habitant within Turkish administrative system for many decades to present days, has conducted a large-scale survey to measure social, economic and psychological damages of the emergency rule in a report.

The group said the total numbers of victims, those who are dismissed or arrested during the emergency rule and their family members, exceed to 1,2 million. The report said the unemployment rate among the purged civil servants are 65 percent and those employed are now in low-paying jobs due to harassment.

The report has also stated that 50 percent of the victims had to leave their house, neighbourhood or city to escape social labelling, negative media portrayal and discrimination attached to them in the society. The public harassment significantly increased family breakdowns and divorces among victims’ families, and considerably damaged social networks, the report said.

According to the report, the research was conducted on three categories of people; victims of the SoE or the emergency decrees (primary victims), relatives of victims of the SoE or the decrees (secondary victims), non-directly victimised individuals by the SoE (the public/tertiary victims).

Stating that Turkish government utterly ill-treated and violated rights of thousands of innocent individuals as primary, secondary and tertiary victims who have nothing to do with the putsch, the Platform for Rights and Justice has suggested Turkish  government to abolish the state of emergency and return to rule of law in Turkey.

The basic findings of the survey are as follows:

  • A total of 2,173 respondents participated in the survey; 1,465 of these were in the category of
    direct/primary victims of the SoE. 342 were in the category of the relatives of victims of the
    SoE and 366 were in the category of non-directly victimised individuals.
  • 91,3 percent of the primary victims of the SoE were working in the public sector before July 15, 2016.
  • 98,1 percent of the primary victims were vocational college/bachelor’s/MA or doctoral degree
    graduates.
  • 86,5 percent of the primary victims were married or had married before. The average number of
    children they had was 2,14.
  • The SoE victims lost 75 percent of their average monthly (TL 4000) income after July 15, 2016 (Now TL 1000 TL). The victims’ relatives also suffered 50 percent loss of income for various reasons, while those who were not-direct victims retained their average monthly income before and after July 15, 2016.
  • After July 15, 2016, current, unemployment rate among the SoE victims is 65 percent. The majority of victims who found jobs mostly work in unregistered and/or low-paying jobs due to government’s harassment of the employers.
  • 50 percent of primary victims left their homes, neighbourhoods and/or cities after July 15, 2016 to find work and/or to escape social labelling/harassment/stigma/exclusion/discrimination attached to them in the society.
  • 99 percent of the victims of the SoE did not face any criminal or administrative investigation before July 15, 2016 of any kind they faced after the coup attempt.
  • 75 percent of the victims who were detained in the SoE have been detained for ‘two’ or more days (up to 30 days).
  • Significant numbers of the victims of the SoE who faced judicial/criminal actions declared that
    they were treated with prejudice in processes in police custody, in public prosecution services
    and in courts.
  • Significant numbers of victims arrested in the SoE were subjected to ill-treatment in custody, in prisons, and are still struggling to continue their lives with permanent psychological damage as a result of these events.
  • 57,5 percent of the SoE victims were employees in the ‘education sector,’ namely teachers and academics.
  • The SoE victimisations significantly increased family breakdowns/divorces among victims’ families.
  • The SoE victimisations damaged in-family, close-relative, friendship and neighbourhood relations considerably.
  • 50 percent of primary and secondary victims felt the need to receive medical/psychological support due to the trauma they faced.
  • The major difficulties primary and secondary victims faced were financial difficulties, unemployment and social exclusion.
  • The victims consider themselves to be treated “utterly unfairly” by the state and the society as a whole.
  • As a conclusion, it can be said that Turkish government utterly ill-treated and violated rights of thousands of innocent individuals as primary, secondary and tertiary victims who have nothing to do with the putsch. As it can be observed in the statements of most victims, they are mostly peaceful or peace-loving people who are altruistic, diligent, honest, motivated. They are not the kind of people that have been portrayed in media or in the government publicity or rhetoric.
  • Furthermore, there is no support for the SoE policies and practices of the government by the public. Since almost nobody in the country has legal protections for their basic rights, nobody is safe or feel safe in the country except a few politically powerful elites.
  • Thus, the SoE should be abolished straight away and justice should return to the country as soon as possible.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

Take a second to support SCF on Patreon!