Journalist reveals organizational structure of Turkey’s purge commissions

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Opposition newspaper Sözcü’s Ankara Bureau Chief Saygı Öztürk has uncovered the main actors in Turkey’s recent cleansing of dissenting voices from within state institutions, particularly of sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

In his Sunday column Öztürk said the chairmen of five to six-person commissions set up within all state bodies determine who will be removed from the civil service over Gülen links.

The government accuses the movement of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt, but according to many analysts has failed to back up its claims with credible evidence. The movement, meanwhile, denies involvement, condemning any intervention into democratically elected administrations. More than 100,000 civil servants have either been sacked or suspended from the civil service since July 15.

“A commission of five to six people decides on suspensions. The commission consists of certain bureaucrats serving at the institution in question. In most cases they are the heads of inspection and counseling departments, personnel departments or legal advisers. Commissions in ministries include one or two deputy undersecretaries,” Öztürk said.

“The commission heads are picked from among people who were appointed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and whose political identities are in line with that of the government.” As the quality of “reliability” is of utmost importance, the government prefers to choose those who also are ideologically aligned with itself, he added.

It is out of the question for members to add an annotation or refuse to sign a final decision on suspensions, Öztürk said, adding: “Annotations exist even on court decisions as [judges] might differ in opinion. Decisions of the commission heads are final here.”

Information on suspected employees

“The intelligence regarding suspected civil servants comes from either the National Intelligence Organization [MİT] or intra-institution investigations. Those from the former are quite limited,” Öztürk said, adding that civil servants politically close to commission heads provide information to the commission.

“They provide information to the commission including their impressions, hearsay and sympathy or hatred towards their colleagues,” the columnist maintained.

It is a common occurrence that some public workers report their colleagues whom they don’t like to the commission as Gülenist, he added.

Ministers have a say in some cases

There is no vote on decisions, Öztürk wrote, adding that the commission head has the final say even though members sometimes raise weak objections.

Members always sign the final decision in order to maintain their employment in the commissions, he stated.

“Commission members obey without question when ministers ask them to add or leave someone off final lists. … Suspended civil servants are never told the underlying reasons why they were sidelined,” Öztürk said.

The most common reason is membership in the Gülen movement, Öztürk underlined, adding: “But this membership has no definition. It is also the most problematic and the most unlawful situation of the current day. As the justification does not exist, the ruling cannot be confirmed as fair or unfair.”

According to Öztürk, investigations into suspected people look at a period of time that goes back to as early as Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, when corruption investigations implicating top government officials were revealed.

Reports in the Turkish media earlier said that people who failed to break off with institutions affiliated with the movement immediately after the corruption probes are considered to be members of a terrorist organization in the eyes of the government.

The government has since called the investigations a coup attempt against it and pinned the blame on the movement. (Turkey Purge)

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