President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday claimed that if Turkey did not adhere to the rule of law, tens of thousands of “traitors” would be lying in pits around the country instead of being in prisons, in reference to suspects accused of carrying out an attempted coup on July 15, 2016.
Speaking at a panel discussion in Ankara titled “July 15 and Human Rights,” organized to commemorate the first anniversary of the coup attempt, President Erdoğan said: “If Turkey were not a country of rule of law, tens of thousands of traitors would be lying in pits around the country.”
Following the coup attempt, Turkey initiated a massive purge that has dismissed over 150,000 people from government jobs. Slamming critics of the purge, Erdoğan told victims to work in the private sector.
“Let them go and work in the private sector. It is none of our business. Are we supposed to be worried about that, too?” Erdoğan stated, although purge victims say they are arbitrarily deprived of all their rights under decrees issued after the declaration of a state of emergency following the putsch.
Arguing that purge victims had betrayed the state, Erdoğan further said that the state is not supposed to feed the purged government employees. However, due to the heavy stigma, private employers in Turkey are often afraid to employ purge victims.