Erdoğan aide says regrets remarks about post-coup purges being a ‘disaster’

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President Erdoğan and Bülent Arınç

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç, currently a member of the Presidential Higher Advisory Board, who recently described the purge of thousands of civil servants from their jobs in the aftermath of a failed coup as a “disaster,” has said he regrets his remarks.

During an interview on Oct. 31 on the YouTube channel of Kemal Öztürk, the Anadolu news agency’s former general manager, Arınç said there are so many people around him who suffered from the post-coup purges and that he feels sorry for them and has sympathy for them. He described the purges as a disaster.

Turkey experienced a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that claimed the lives of 249 people and injured a thousand others.

Immediately after the abortive putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement and labeled it as a terrorist organization, while the movement has consistently denied any involvement in the coup or terrorism.

The government, which declared a state of emergency (OHAL) in the aftermath of the coup attempt, removed 150,000 public servants from their jobs through government decrees, known as KHKs, while 30,000 others have been jailed under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

In a telephone interview with the Haber Türk TV station on Thursday, Arınç retreated from his earlier remarks, noting: “Yes, perhaps I should not have said that the ‘KHKs were a disaster.’ Because I believe either a state of emergency or martial law would be declared [after the coup attempt]. Any other possibility was out of the question. The KHKs were there for a reason.”

Arınç attracted criticism from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about his remarks likening the KHKs to a disaster, while post-coup purge victims appreciated him for extending his support to them. Others said they did not find his remarks sincere because he still works for Erdoğan, who issued the controversial decrees.

After several years of a break from politics, Arınç was appointed as a member of the Presidential Higher Advisory Board by President Erdoğan in May.

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