Turkey’s vice president calls purge victims ‘terrorists’

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has called the victims of a massive purge of state institutions “terrorists,” accusing opposition parties of having plans for the reinstatement of former civil servants who were removed from their jobs following a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

“May I ask who these people are? They are terrorists. Opposition parties should tell people that they will reinstate these terrorists to state institutions,” Oktay said in an interview with the private TV channel A Haber.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants 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.

The government also shut down 164 media organizations, 1,058 educational institutions and 1,769 NGOs.

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. 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, a human rights advocate and lawmaker from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the biggest problem the purge victims and their families have been facing is economic hardship (97.9 percent) followed by psychological problems (88.6 percent), loss of social prestige and social exclusion (83.7 percent), the disintegration of social circles (83.1 percent), unemployment/lack of employment (80.4 percent) and a lack of social security benefits (73.2 percent).

The most recent report on the issue published by Veli Ağbaba from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) states that at least 46 former public servants have died by suicide in Turkey, with the figure increasing to as many as 100 cases of suicide among dismissed civil servants in other sources.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in August that he would reinstate all former officials removed from their jobs by emergency decree-laws known as KHKs if they win the next general election in June 2023, “unless they were involved in terrorism.”

“An official apology should be made to the purge victims, and pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages should be paid for the ordeal they were subjected to,” lawmaker Muazzez Orhan Işık from HDP said in late September.

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