Turkey excludes post-coup purge victims from scholarships offered to students affected by devastating earthquakes

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has announced a scholarship program for students who were affected by deadly earthquakes that struck southern Turkey on February 6, stating that individuals who were dismissed from civil service jobs following a July 15, 2016 coup attempt are not eligible to apply.

TÜBİTAK said the scholarships will be awarded to students enrolled in bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral programs who are studying in or are from the region that was hit by the devastating earthquakes, which killed at least 44,000 people in Turkey.

However, people who were dismissed by emergency decrees and are studying in those provinces are not eligible for the scholarships, even if they were directly affected by the earthquakes, TÜBİTAK said.

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.

Lawyer Cemil Çiçek alleged discrimination and said he would file a criminal complaint against TÜBİTAK officials.

The TÜBİTAK announcement did not specify the amount or duration of the scholarships.

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.

According to a joint report by the Justice for Victims Platform and Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, an MP from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a prominent defender of human rights, the two-year-long state of emergency declared after the abortive putsch caused immense suffering among public servants who were dismissed from their jobs by the government as well as their families. Gergerlioğlu claims that these suicides are the result of a systematic policy towards the victims of the purges.

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