Although economic, social and cultural rights can only be limited under a state of emergency in ways that respect the basic rights themselves, measures taken by the Turkish government are far from satisfying such criteria as the careers and livelihoods of tens of thousands of persons have been destroyed since July 15, according to United Nations human rights experts.
“The dismissal of up to 134,000 public servants, without due process, compensation, or access to a proper remedy, for alleged links with organizations that the Government has chosen to proscribe, cannot be justified by reference to Turkey’s longstanding international human rights obligations,” said the UN ahead of this Sunday’s constitutional referendum.
Among the experts who have voiced concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in Turkey are Philip Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; David Kaye, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Maina Kiai, special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and Koumbou Boly Barry, special rapporteur on the right to education.
A failed military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, a state of emergency was declared, and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
The movement denies any involvement. However, President Erdoğan initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
According to the UN rapporteurs, the right to education has been targeted by the government since the coup attempt as a significant proportion of the public servants who were dismissed worked as schoolteachers or for the Ministry of Education.
In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 130,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10.
As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.
In a similar vein, according to Turkeypurge.com, 2,099 schools and dormitories and 15 universities have been shut down by emergency decrees. Many of the dismissed public servants were trade union members, including more than 10,000 teachers who were members of the Education and Science Workers’ Union.