Erdoğan confidant criticizes treatment of purged civil servants

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President Erdoğan and Bülent Arınç

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç, currently a member of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Higher Advisory Board, has criticized the treatment of former civil servants who were removed from their jobs in the aftermath of a failed coup, the TR724 news website reported.

“They cannot go abroad as their passports are confiscated. Nobody is willing to hire them. I am protesting this. Should they just ‘head for the mountains’?” Arınç said, using a phrase in Turkish that implies armed insurgency or a revolt against authority.

Arınç made the comments during a program that aired on TV5, a station with an editorial line close to that of the Islamo-conservative Felicity Party (SP), which is known for its critical stance against Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“Some 150,000 public officials were dismissed. Among them there were some who claimed to be unjustly treated. The state of emergency was lifted, yet there are those who continue to suffer from hunger,” Arınç said.

“Around 10 percent of them were reinstated. That is not enough. Those who were acquitted or those who were not prosecuted at all were not just fired, they were also put under a travel ban.”

This is not the first time Arınç has brought up the purge victims’ situation. In November he described the purge as a “disaster,” although he quickly had to backtrack after his remarks drew Erdoğan’s criticism.

Turkey experienced a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 after which the government declared a state of emergency that lasted for two years. Over the course of the state of emergency, the Turkish government promulgated a set of decree-laws (KHKs) that summarily removed 150,000 people from the public sector.

Those who were sacked from their duties were automatically placed under a travel ban and their status as “suspect” was made visible to potential employers on the social security system.

The treatment of the purge victims and the lack of effective legal remedy has repeatedly been criticized by the human rights bodies of international organizations and NGOs around the world.

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