Turkish gov’t dismisses more than 18,500 civil servants over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government dismissed a total of 18,632 public employees from their posts by a government decree under the state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to the official gazette (Resmi Gazete) published on Sunday.

The Resmi Gazete also said 148 others who had been earlier dismissed from public institutions and organizations were reinstated.

According to the Resmi Gazete, 8,998 police officers were ousted from the Security General Directorate, while 649 others were dismissed from the Gendarmerie General Command.

Also, 3,077 personnel from the Land Forces Command, 1,126 from the Naval Forces Command, and 1,949 from the Air Force Command were ousted from the Turkish Army.

Moreover, 1,052 people, including judicial candidates and civil servants were dismissed from the Ministry of Justice.

Moreover, 12 associations, 3 newspapers and a TV channel were shut down. Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 240 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 7, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 179 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 143 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in 2016.

Also, 1,526 others from the Turkish security forces, army (324), Security General Directorate (1,167), and Gendarmerie General Command (35), who had already been dismissed from their service were also stripped of their ranks.

A total of 199 academics were also dismissed across the country under the latest government decree. The government decree has also dismissed 4 deputy governors and 4 district governors from their posts. It was seen that most of the public servants were dismissed by the government decree totally basing on profiling in the framework of the intelligence given by the police, the comments made by the institutions that they have been working for, the schools that they have been studying in and their alleged use of ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.The Cumhuriyet daily has reported that the decree was prepared by the ongoing cabinet led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on June 4. According to the Official Gazette, the decree was prepared before the June 24 election (June 4) but was published on Sunday morning. It was said in the Decree-Law that “Decree No. 701 was decided by the Council of Ministers which convened under the chairmanship of the President according to Article 4 of the Law on the State of Emergency on 4/6/2018…”

Turkey declared a state of emergency for the first time on July 20, 2016, following the controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Turkey’s state of emergency has been renewed seven times since its imposition five days after the coup bid. The current renewal expires on July 19. State of emergency is expected to be lifted on Monday after announcement of new Cabinet, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Thursday.

Human rights groups have criticized the crackdown, saying it has had a profound effect on Turkish society. Gauri van Gulik, Europe director at Amnesty International, in April called on the international community to pressure Turkey against such measures.

“Under the cloak of the state of emergency, Turkish authorities have deliberately and methodically set about dismantling civil society, locking up human rights defenders, shutting down organizations and creating a suffocating climate of fear,” said van Gulik.

Turkey’s Western allies have also criticised the crackdown. Critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuse him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkish government claims the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

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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