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Opposition MP slams justice minister for saying Turkey’s post-coup purge victimized no one

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An opposition lawmaker has criticized Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ for arguing that none of the tens of thousands of civil servants who were fired from their jobs by government decrees in the aftermath of an abortive putsch in Turkey in July 2016 were unjustly treated, local media reported on Friday.

Following the failed coup, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, summarily dismissing some 130,000 public servants as well as military personnel for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Mustafa Yeneroğlu, a former politician from the ruling AKP and current İstanbul deputy from the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), on Friday slammed Bozdağ in a series of tweets for saying, “There’s no one who was victimized by decree laws.”

“What a lack of conscience! His responsibility is to be loyal to justice, but unfortunately, some people become unrecognizable when they are drunk with power. Of course, there are terrible wrongs [caused by] KHKs [state of emergency decrees], and people should be ashamed to say that there aren’t!” the MP said.

Yeneroğlu stated that “even the judiciary under government pressure” gave a verdict of non-prosecution, acquitted or reinstated tens of thousands of people who faced coup-linked accusations, saying they were “sorry.”

The lawmaker said even the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission (OHAL Commission), which was established in January 2017 for appeals against measures taken by the Turkish government during a two-year state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the abortive putsch, said “sorry” to more than 17,000 people and reinstated them.

“The scope of the dismissals by decree laws was very broad, and countless people who were not linked to the July 15 coup attempt … were victimized by the [state of emergency decrees],” Yeneroğlu added, underlining that it was “imperative” that the legal status of purge victims be re-evaluated in terms of both criminal and administrative law.

The lawmaker’s statements come after main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said earlier this month that his party would reinstate all civil servants dismissed by emergency decrees in Turkey if the CHP comes to power in the 2023 elections.

The AKP’s post-coup crackdown ruined the lives of tens of thousands in Turkey who have been targets of hate speech, hate crimes, unlawful prosecution, torture and abduction, among other serious human rights violations.

Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs; they were also prohibited from working again in the public sector and getting a passport. The government also made it difficult for them to work formally in the private sector.

Most dismissed civil servants are accused of links to the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, but there were many others who belonged to other opposition groups.

The ruling AKP labels the movement as a terrorist organization and accuses it of masterminding the abortive putsch, although Gülen and his followers strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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