Turkish gov’t dismisses 461 career diplomats from foreign ministry over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government has dismissed 461 career diplomats at the Foreign Ministry as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, corresponding to 20 percent of career diplomats at the ministry.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has responded to a question submitted by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a deputy of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), asking about the number of dismissed personnel at the Foreign Ministry because of their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Çavuşoğlu announced in his written response that 461 career diplomats, or 20 percent of total career diplomats at the ministry, were removed from their jobs due to alleged involvement in a “terrorist organisations.” He said with the dismissals of public servants in other categories, the number of fired personnel at the Foreign Ministry has reached 568. He also stated that just four of these dismissed personnel were reinstated to their civil service jobs.

According to information provided by Çavuşoğlu, 288 of 568 dismissed employees are career diplomats, 173 are consular officers and specialised officers, one is a first legal advisor, one is a legal adviser, nine are deputy experts, one is an internal auditor, 35 are computer operators, three are programmers, one is a lawyer, two are engineers, two are experts, one is a financial expert, one is a public servant, four are interpreters, one is a technician, one is a nurse, three are drivers, one is a permanent worker and 26 are overseas contracted personnel.

Çavuşoğlu also stated that four of the dismissed career diplomats are ambassadors, while he said 12 employees at the ministry and eight overseas contracted personnel were dismissed just because they had an account at private lender Bank Asya, which was closed by the Turkish government under a state of emergency over its affiliation with the Gülen movement.

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 autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, 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, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “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.”

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