Public sector workers who were earlier dismissed from their jobs under post-coup state of emergency rule are being denied a future in Turkey as they are prevented from finding employment elsewhere and blocked from going abroad as well, Amnesty International said in a recent report.
Released with a title “No end in sight: Purged public sector workers denied a future in Turkey” on Monday, the report echoes the question many have been already asking: Were dismissed public officials left to civil death?
Turkish government declared a State of Emergency only a week after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and has caused more than 130,000 people to lose their jobs since then. While most of them were dismissed on generalized justifications, Amnesty said, adding that purged officials were denied individualized accusations, increasing concerns that a great many dismissals were arbitrary, unfair and/or politically motivated. Turkish government pinned the blame for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt on the Gülen movement and launched a sweeping crackdown against its members afterwards. The movement denies any involvement. With most of the victims of the crackdown being Gulen followers, the oppression has spread to almost all opposition groups including the Kurdish minority.
“Due to the stigma of being branded “terrorists” under the decrees, many have not been able to find any work at all. Others, along with their families, have lost housing and health care benefits connected to their jobs. Unable to earn a living in Turkey, dismissed public sector employees have been prevented from seeking employment abroad, as the decrees also require the cancelation of their passports. The highly uncertain future for dismissed public sector employees is heightened by the absence of any effective means for them to challenge their dismissal. Currently, no courts in Turkey have accepted jurisdiction to review the dismissals,” the human rights group described the challenges dismissed civil servants face amid post-coup period.
Interviewing 61 people, among them 33 dismissed public workers, Amnesty said interviewees included as former teachers; academics; doctors or other health care professionals; police officers; and judicial and military members. The agency said it also met with lawyers, NGOs, trade unions representatives as well as government officials.
“Dismissals based on political affiliation, union membership or actions such as participation in demonstrations violate the rights to freedom of expression, association or assembly, in addition to the right to non-discrimination,” Amnesty elaborated the jeopardized rights and freedoms, maintaining: “Expelling people from all work in the public sector or their profession as a whole infringes on the right to work, and in the long term may threaten the right to an adequate standard of living. The routine cancellation of passports violates the right to freedom of movement, while the lack of an effective appeal procedure threatens the right to a fair trial and an effective remedy.”
Amnesty also provided a detailed analysis of the purge victims according to their occupations. Of the total number of dismissed civil servants, Amnesty said, more than 33,000 are teachers and other employees of the Ministry of Education, more than 24,000 are police officers and other employees of the Ministry of Interior, more than 8,000 are members of the armed forces, more than 6,000 are doctors and other employees of the Ministry of Health, more than 5,000 are academics and other higher education employees, more than 4,000 are judges, prosecutors and other employees of the Ministry of Justice and more than 3,000 are employees of the office of the Prime Minister and connected institutions.
“Yet more people suddenly lost their jobs through the closure of the institutions employing them, including universities, hospitals, schools, by emergency decree.”
Turkey has closed down more than 2,100 schools, dormitories and universities over coup charges while at least 156 media outlets were shut down, since the coup attempt.