Turkey fires thousands of civil servants ahead of Erdogan’s swearing-in
Posted On July 20, 2020
The Turkish government on Sunday sacked more than 18,000 civil servants for alleged links to terror groups, as it prepared to lift the state of emergency in the wake of the 2016 failed coup.
Nearly 9,000 police officers, 6,000 members of the military and 199 academics from across Turkey are among the people summarily dismissed in a decree published in the Official Gazette. Their passports will be cancelled.
The dismissals came the day before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to be sworn in for his second term, following his victory in last month’s presidential election.
Mr Erdogan has overseen a series of purges since the July 2016 attempted coup, which saw parts of the Turkish military launch an operation to topple the government and oust its leader.
Turkey blames exiled preacher and businessmen Fethullah Gulen for the attempted power grab and cracked down decisively, implementing a state of emergency and using enhanced powers to sack scores of civil servants. After two years, many were expecting an announcement lifting Turkey’s state of emergency, rather than Sunday’s further tightening of the screws.
According to the UN’s human rights office, more 160,000 civil servants had already been dismissed before this latest round. Around a third have been formally charged and jailed during their trials.
Turkey has defended the measures as necessary to combat threats to national security. But critics say they amount to purges of any individual or group who might be opposed to Mr Erdogan’s policies. Members of Kurdish groups and their supporters have also been dismissed from employment, detained and charged.
In April 2017, Mr Erdogan presided over a constitutional referendum which saw 18 amendments adopted, including the abolishment of the post of Prime Minister, the replacement of Turkey’s parliamentary system with a presidential system, and a significant beefing-up of presidential powers.
Turkey’s allies, particularly in the West, have accused Mr Erdogan of authoritarianism and of using the post-coup crackdown as an excuse to quash dissent.
Relations between Turkey and the US have deteriorated significantly over the issue, but Turkey has not wavered from its policies.