Minister says new purge under way for PKK supporters in public sector

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Mehmet Müezzinoğlu

Minister of Labor and Social Security Mehmet Müezzinoğlu has announced that the Turkish government is making preparations for an operation to cleanse alleged supporters of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from jobs they hold in public institutions.

Speaking to reporters in the western province of Bursa on Thursday, Müezzinoğlu said: “The individuals working in the public sector who aid and abet PKK activities in the country’s Southeast are also being investigated during this process. People who have duties on behalf of the state and the nation but are acting against the state and the nation will not have any chance of having jobs in the public sector. So, decisions will be made in the coming 15 days or one month about those who have links to the PKK or support it,” said Müezzinoğlu.

The minister said many as 700 people were killed by the PKK within the period of a year.

In a similar move, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters at a meeting in Diyarbakır on Sept. 4 that there are nearly 14,000 teachers who are somehow affiliated with the PKK and that the Education Ministry is working on a list of probable suspects to suspend prior to the beginning of the new academic year.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have already been pursuing a witch-hunt against people who are sympathetic to Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen since the Dec. 17-25, 2013, corruption investigations. The process turned into an all-out war against Gülen sympathizers following a coup attempt on July 15.

In accordance with a state of emergency decree published on Sept.1, 50,589 civil servants have been dismissed and banned from employment at any state institution. The Education Ministry topped the list of dismissals with 28,163 people — most of them teachers – fired following the decree. A total of 7,669 police officers and 323 gendarmes were dismissed from their positions. The decree also included the dismissal of 2,346 staff members from the Council of Higher Education (YÖK); 2,018 from the Health Ministry; 1,519 from the Religious Affairs Directorate; 829 from the Finance Ministry; and 733 from the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.

Prior to the new decree, 86,000 people had already been either sacked or suspended within state bodies. While it is yet to be known if the new decree implicated only those people who had already been suspended, it is believed to have brought up the total number.

Nearly 41,000 have been detained and 22,000 arrested since the July 15 coup attempt as part of a witch-hunt against the Gülen movement. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian.

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