Turkey’s main opposition leader vows to reinstate all victims of post-coup purge

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (file photo)

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said his party will reinstate all civil servants who were fired from their jobs by government decrees in the aftermath of an abortive putsch in Turkey in July 2016 if the CHP comes to power in the 2023 elections, local media reported on Wednesday.

Following the failed coup, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, summarily dismissing some 130,000 public servants as well as military personnel for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks came on Wednesday when he went to the Black Sea province of Samsun to hold his party’s group meeting.

When the CHP leader was asked by a former public servant what his party’s solution would be for those who were fired as part of the AKP government’s post-coup purge when they come to power, he said, “We will reinstate all those [dismissed by] KHKs [state of emergency decrees].”

“All of them?” the purge victim asked once again, according to Turkish media reports, to which Kılıçdaroğlu replied, “All of them.”

The CHP leader’s remarks indicated a change of tone in his party’s attitude regarding the purge victims, since Kılıçdaroğlu and others from his party previously stated that they would only reinstate those who were tried and acquitted of the charges against them.

The AKP’s post-coup crackdown ruined the lives of tens of thousands in Turkey who have been targets of hate speech, hate crimes, unlawful prosecution, torture and abduction, among other serious human rights violations.

Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs; 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.

Most dismissed civil servants are accused of links to the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, but there were many others who belonged to other opposition groups.

The ruling AKP labels the movement as a terrorist organization and accuses them of masterminding the abortive putsch, although Gülen and his followers strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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