Tens of thousands facing social death in Turkey three years after coup attempt - DW

The government of Turkey has fired some 134,000 people from civil service jobs since the failed coup attempt of 2016, and the majority remain unemployed, battling for basic social services as they deal with the psychological stress of having become social outcasts, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Friday.

Some 126,000 people have filed applications with Turkey's State of Emergency Commission to resume work after being dismissed following the failed putsch, it said.

Only 78 percent of the applications have been processed by the commission, which was established after the coup attempt to to allow civil servants to appeal legal action taken against them under the state of emergency decrees thus far and 88,700 of the applications were turned down.

The Turkish government blames the July 15, 2016 coup on the Gülen movement, a religious group led by U.S.-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen. After the failed putsch, the government used emergency decrees enacted during the two-year-long state of emergency rule to summarily dismiss tens of thousands of public sector workers it deemed to have links to the group it designates a terrorist organisation and to other groups posing a threat to national security.

More than three years after the coup, Turkey remains in a permanent state of emergency, Deutsche Welle quoted pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioglu, as saying.

"Millions of people are still feeling the repercussions," Gergerlioğlu said. "Many search in vain for private sector jobs, many are refused the right to travel abroad. They are not allowed to make use of federal employment agencies, and city authorities prohibit them from starting their own businesses. Often, they are not even allowed to withdraw money sent to them from abroad".

Many of those who have been sacked are battling for healthcare and retirement benefits, Deutsche Welle said, while some have been arbitrarily refused care by doctors or have had their passports confiscated.

The article pointed to the example of a 33-year-old history teacher whose life has turned upside down since the coup attempt after he was thrown in jail over suspected links to the Gülen movement. The teacher has since been released but remains unemployed and socially ostracised all the while battling cancer.

Haluk Savas, a professor of psychology and himself sacked after the failed putsch, says that the firings have created a web of suffering, with hundreds of thousands of people directly affected by the sackings as well as millions of their relatives suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"These people suffer great psychological stress because they feel as if they have become social outcasts. Trauma researchers now know that beyond exhaustion and physical illness, the pain that people inflict upon one another has more grave psychological consequences than the trauma of events like earthquakes," Savaş said.