Middle East

Turkey axes another 2,700 public workers in post-coup crackdown

Turkey has sacked another 2,756 public sector workers as it continues it purge of people it claims supported last year’s failed military coup.

A pair of government decrees published in the in the Official Gazette Sunday said those fired in the latest round of dismissals include 637 military personnel, 360 gendarmerie force members and 150 academics.

At least 115 public sector employees that were terminated previously were reinstated.

The government also announced the closing of 17 institutions, including two independent newspapers and one health clinic, according to the Gazette.

Turkey blames US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen and his Hizmet (service) movement for organizing a coup attempt in July 2016 in order to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The government refers to Gulen’s network as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation” (FETO), and has labelled it a terror organization.

Ankara also accuses Gulen and his followers of infiltrating state institutions.

Turkey declared a state of emergency after the failed coup attempt, and has used that as a pretext for purging its military and public sector ranks.

Hiring many more

On Sunday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the government would hire 110,000 public sector employees, including 20,000 teachers, 36,000 health workers and 15,000 people to work for the justice ministry.

“Thus in the ministries and state departments, there will not be a problem of disruption due to lack of personnel,” Yildirim said in televised comments.

Government purges

More than 140,000 civil servants have lost their jobs and 50,000 have been arrested including journalists. All are accused or suspected of being Gulen followers.

The government has justified the crackdown in order to counter the dangers posed by Gulen’s followers.  But critics say the government crackdown is just an excuse to silence political opposition as well as journalists and members from the Kurdish minority.

Gulen insists he has nothing to do with the coup.

Sunday’s decree also stipulates a new dress code for prisoners appearing in court on terrorism related charges. Male defendants will now be required to wear “almond and gray-colored uniforms.” A dress code for female defendants is still to be determined.

The new edict comes some months after a defendant, accused of being connected to the coup, appeared in court wearing T-shirt with the word “hero” printed on it, sparking a public outcry.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that Gulen supporters will wear uniforms similar to those worn by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay when appearing in court.

Erdogan called the uniform rule “the most important” decision.

“In Guantanamo, there is a way of life instituted with a single dress code,” the president said, adding that in Turkey prisoners will not be kept chained inside the courtroom.

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