Oct 25 2018

Almost 130,000 purged Turkish public servants await justice - Amnesty International

More than two years after being dismissed from their jobs by government decree, almost 130,000 Turkish public sector workers are still awaiting justice and facing an uncertain future, Amnesty International said in a report published on Thursday.

The report entitled “Purged beyond return? No remedy for Turkey’s dismissed public sector workers” reviews 109 decisions made by a commission set up last year to rule on the appeals of public sector workers sacked over links to terrorist organisations after a coup attempt in 2016. The report also includes 21 interviews made with sacked workers about their experiences. 

Actions such as depositing money in a certain bank, membership of certain trade unions or downloading a particular smart phone app were used as evidence to dismissal public servants, Amnesty International said. 

Out of approximately 125,000 applications made by dismissed individuals, the commission had issued decisions in only 36,000 cases as of October and overturned only 7 percent of the original decisions, according to the figures cited by Amnesty International.

“They dismissed us without reason and now they are trying to find excuses for our dismissals,” said a teacher whose appeal against his dismissal for depositing money into the then government-controlled Bank Asya was rejected by the commission.

Bank Asya used to belong to the Gülen movement, which Turkey accuses of orchestrating the coup attempt. The movement denies any involvement. 

When they were dismissed, public sector workers were not given reasons for their dismissal beyond a generalised justification that they were assessed to have “links to terrorist organisations,” and, as a result, with no knowledge of specific allegations against them, people submitting appeals had to speculate about the reasons for terminating their contracts, Amnesty International said. 

As some of the decisions made by the commission lack sufficient information on the evidence that led it to conclude that an individual applicant had links to proscribed groups, public sector workers, whose appeals have been overturned, have difficulty establishing their case when applying to administrative courts for a subsequent appeal.

“Those public sector workers who are lucky enough to be reinstated are often left in a position that is materially worse than the one they had been in prior to their wrongful dismissals,” Amnesty International said. 

“More than two years since the first dismissals began, tens of thousands of public sector workers are living in limbo without effective remedy. Rather than providing a mechanism for justice, the commission has merely rubbed salt into their wounds,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager.