Turkish gov’t dismisses 259 mukhtars over alleged ‘terror’ ties, misconduct

Turkish Interior Ministry

The Turkish Ministry of Interior announced on Monday that 259 mukhtars, also known as village or neighborhood headmen, were dismissed for alleged links to terrorist groups or for actions considered inappropriate for a person holding that position.

A statement by the ministry said that 103 village mukhtars and 156 neighborhood mukhtars were dismissed by the order of Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

The dismissals are a temporary measure until administrative and judicial investigations are completed, it added. Mukhtars are elected officials who serve as the lowest administrative authority in Turkey.

In addition to a crackdown targeting Kurdish mayors and politicians over their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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