Turkey’s foreign ministry labels 394 Turkish diplomats as terrorists

Turkey's Foreign Ministry

By Abdullah Bozkurt

Turkey’s foreign ministry has branded almost 500 of its employees as ‘terrorists’ without any judicial proceedings and purged them from the government with a total disregard to a due process and right to a defense.

The bulk of the purged is composed of diplomats which was declared as 394 according to official documents presented to the Parliament by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. That corresponds to 33 percent of all diplomats employed at the ministry which had 1,202 career diplomats at the end of 2015.

In other words, Turkish government has suddenly decided to consider one-third of its diplomats as “terrorists” or “people affiliated and associated with terrorists” in the aftermath of the controversial coup bid of July 15, 2016 for which the opposition claimed is ‘controlled operation’ by the government.

The branding of hundreds of Turkish diplomats as ‘terrorists’ without an effective judicial and administrative probes drew the ire of human rights organizations that lambasted Turkish government for mass rights violations in breach of Turkey’s international obligations.

According to Çavuşoğlu’s statement, 96 employees who are not diplomats were also purged from the foreign ministry, bringing the total of dismissed to 490.

The purged diplomats had entered into foreign service between the years of 1992 and 2016. Some of the dismissed diplomats were later arrested on trumped up charges. Among jailed diplomats include three prominent ambassadors Gürcan Balık (a top diplomat who worked as chief foreign policy adviser to former President Abdullah Gül and special adviser to former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu), Tuncay Babalı (former ambassador to Canada, deputy chief of cabinet to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and a fellow at the Harvard Weatherhead Center for International Affairs) and Ali Fındık (former ambassador to Costa Rica).

Fearing false imprisonment on trumped up charges, many sacked diplomats sought asylum abroad. Some remained stranded in foreign countries when Turkish government revoked their passports over alleged ties to a social movement led by US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen. On October 2016, Germany announced that 35 Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports have applied to Germany for political asylum.

Turkish government has sacked 138,147 public employees so far, creating a catastrophic impact on already troubled human rights record of Turkish government led by an authoritarian leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Erdoğan’s Islamist government has labeled the Gülen movement as “FETÖ,” a derogatory term and acronym for the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization.” The movement, inspired by Fethullah Gülen, rejects Turkish government’s accusations as politically motivated. Gülen has been decades-long advocate of science education, interfaith and intercultural dialogue and community contribution. The movement he inspired is active in 180 countries with schools, dialogue centers and cultural institutions.

The movement faces an unprecedented persecution in Turkey where the rule of law has effectively ended with Erdoğan fully controlling all levers of the powers including the judiciary without any checks and balances. Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 2 that 47,155 people have been jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement since July 15, 2016. According to Soylu, 113,260 people have also been detained on the same accusation.

On May 6, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement.

May 22, 2017

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