Turkish police prevent purge victims from attending Ankara gathering

Police in Turkey’s capital Ankara prevented government employees sacked by decrees following the July 2016 coup attempt from attending a gathering for purge victims following a ban from the Ankara Governor’s Office.

Dubbed ‘’The Great Gathering,’’ the two-day meeting was to bring together the country’s dismissed public officers to search for solutions to their problems and share their experiences, left-wing news site Duvar reported.

Around 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of the Turkish government crackdown under the two year-long emergency rule following 2016 coup attempt.

Many of those dismissed are alleged to be supporters of the Gülen movement, which Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed putsch and labelled a terrorist organisation.

Ankara police on Saturday used force to prevent dozens of former public officers, including travelling from Istanbul to Ankara, from attending the event, Duvar said.

Police escorted participants from Istanbul back to the city, it said, adding that police officers reportedly stopped intercity buses and checked travellers’ IDs, preventing purge victims from proceeding to Ankara. 

The Ankara Governor’s Office on Friday informed the management of the venue where the meeting was set to take place that the event was banned.

The Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) on Friday said the ban was an ‘’open violation of the fundamental rights to free speech and assembly.”

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker, one of the event organizers, on Friday said ,“They [the AKP government] have been carrying out a civilian death [policy] towards the purged for three years. We do not accept that. Turkey has to return to rule of law immediately.”

The majority Turkey’s purge victims are unable to find employment either in the public or private sector.

Those dismissed did not just lose their jobs, but were cut off from access to their professions, as well as housing and health care benefits, leaving them and their families without a livelihood, according to an Oct. report by rights group Amnesty International.