Amnesty International condemns Turkey for 'arbitrary dismissal' of public sector workers

Amnesty International accused Turkey of implementing 'arbitrary dismissals' of public sector workers in a series of purges since last year's failed coup.

AFP May 22, 2017 09:42:59 IST
Amnesty International condemns Turkey for 'arbitrary dismissal' of public sector workers

Ankara: Amnesty International on Monday accused Turkey of implementing "arbitrary dismissals" of public sector workers in a series of purges since last year's failed coup.

Over 100,000 people from the public sector including members of the judiciary and armed forces have been dismissed since the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July, the rights group said.

They have all been dismissed by decree under the state of emergency put into force a few days after the failed putsch bid.

The emergency has been renewed three times and will expire on 19 July. But Erdogan said on Sunday it would continue until there was peace, without giving a time limit.

Amnesty International condemns Turkey for arbitrary dismissal of public sector workers

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AFP

In a report titled 'No end in sight', Amnesty criticised the dismissals which it said were "carried out arbitrarily on the basis of vague and generalised grounds of 'connection to terrorist organisations' ".

The organisation urged the government to put in place a "prompt and effective appeal mechanism for those already dismissed".

The dismissed public sector officials Amnesty spoke to described a lack of evidence presented to them after finding their names on a list published in the official gazette.

"None... have been provided with any explanation of the reason for their dismissal beyond the generalised allegation contained in the decrees," Amnesty wrote.

The organisation conducted 61 interviews including 33 dismissed individuals and met Turkish authorities, trade union representatives, NGOs and lawyers.

The government insists that those dismissed have access to an appeals commission, whose members were confirmed last week will hear their cases.

But Amnesty said that the commission was not an "effective domestic remedy", and urged Turkish government to establish a "genuinely independent, impartial, transparent and effective appeal mechanism".

It criticised the position many found themselves in with limited ability to find work with their passports being cancelled.

The report also said, "Some of the measures including the barring of individuals from all forms of public service and the routine cancellation of passports would violate rights even in the cases where dismissal was justified."

According to Amnesty, of those dismissed more than 33,000 are teachers and other employees of the education ministry while over 24,000 are police officers and others from the interior ministry.

Over 8,000 are members of the armed forces, more than 5,000 are academics and include those working in the higher education sector as well as over 4,000 judges, prosecutors and justice ministry officials, it added.

Apart from  sacking, more than 47,000 have been arrested over alleged links to the movement led by US-based Muslim Cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of ordering the failed coup.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, strongly denies the charges but Turkey alleges his group is a terror group which it dubs the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO).

Although western governments and human rights activists have hit out at the crackdown, Ankara defends the purges as necessary to clear individuals with alleged malicious intent inside the public sector.

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