Single man fired from gov’t service for sending kids he doesn’t have to Gülen-linked school

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Muhammed Zekeriya Özdil

Muhammed Zekeriya Özdil, a single man with no child, says according to the Inquiry Commission on the State of Emergency Measures (OHAL Commission) he was dismissed from public service for sending his children to a Gülen-linked school, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported, citing the Mesopotamia News Agency.

Özdil used to work as a civil servant at the Social Security Institution (SGK) until he was summarily dismissed from his job without any explanation, on Jan. 6, 2017, with a state of emergency decree. He was also the provincial representative of the Office Workers Union.

In the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and summarily fired 125,678 public servants from various institutions using emergency decree-laws. The purge mainly targeted people who were allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, but included people from a wide variety of backgrounds as well.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the attempted coup and labels it as a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity. Following the allegations, Gülen called on the Turkish government to allow for an international investigation.

After his dismissal, Özdil appealed to the OHAL Commission. The commission rejected his application, citing intelligence reports that contain contradictory and false information. “According to the reports, I have a passport [but I don’t have one]. Moreover, although I am single and have no kids, it is claimed that I sent my children to Gülen-linked schools [that were shut down by emergency decrees],” Özdil said. “Furthermore, in one part of the report it is claimed that I had an account at Bank Asya [a Gülen movement-linked bank that was closed by the government], but on another page, it says that I don’t have any accounts.” According to Özdil, all this demonstrates the incompetence of the commission.

The legal path to appeal for people dismissed by decrees had been closed under the state of emergency. But following a flurry of applications, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) warned the Turkish government about a case overload. The commission was formed to serve as a domestic remedy to meet the ECtHR’s requirement of the “exhaustion of domestic remedies” to accept cases. As of July 3, 2020, only 12.7 percent of applications had been approved for reinstatement. There are more than 18,000 applications still pending before the commission.

The OHAL Commission has been slammed by legal expertsrights groups and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as being unfit for the purpose of a reviewing body due to its lack of independence from executive control, protracted procedures, inadequate procedural safeguards and a flawed review process.

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