10,000 more people sacked in Turkey post-coup purge – Thousands of convicts freed

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim chairs an evaluation meeting of the "First Hundred Days of the 65th Government" at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara on September 2 2016.  A portrait of the founder of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atat¸rk  hands on the wall. / AFP / ADEM ALTAN

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim chairs an evaluation meeting of the “First Hundred Days of the 65th Government” at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara on September 2 2016. A portrait of the founder of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atat¸rk hands on the wall. – AFP

ANKARA: Turkey has sacked another 10,000 police officers, judges, prosecutors and academics, according to a decree published yesterday, as the state continued a purge within public services following July’s failed coup. A total of 7,669 police were dismissed in the latest swoop on suspected coup plotters or supporters, along with 323 personnel in the gendarmerie, which looks after domestic security.

A further 543 prosecutors and judges were also dismissed, bringing the total of those removed from the judiciary to 3,390, NTV channel reported. The state’s post-coup crackdown on higher education also continued, with 2,346 academics getting the sack, along with 28,000 others in education, including thousands of teachers. Turkey accuses US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen and his Hizmet movement of ordering and implementing the failed putsch which left nearly 270 dead, including 24 coup-plotters.

Since then, tens of thousands of people within the judiciary, military, education system and police force have been removed, detained or arrested after being accused of links to Gulen’s movement or the coup itself. Scores of journalists have also been arrested. Also yesterday, the justice minister said tens of thousands of convicts who were jailed before the putsch had been freed, under an initiative apparently aimed at relieving pressure on prisons which are bursting with coup suspects.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen of running a “parallel state” in Turkey and has vowed to rid the country of the “virus” of the preacher’s influence. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, strongly denies any involvement with the bid to overthrow Erdogan. The EU and UN have criticized the Turkish crackdown, as well as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) which has accused the government of “going too far.”

To fill the gaping holes left in the judiciary, the state has invited judges and prosecutors who took early retirement to apply to return. The latest sweep also involved the dismissal of more than 800 military personnel, most of whom were already under arrest. A total of 4,451 military personnel have been sacked since July, including scores of generals.

34,000 Convicts Released
Announcing the prisoner release, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said it involved people jailed for minor offences. “As of yesterday evening, 33,838 prisoners and detainees have been released,” Bozdag said during a ministerial meeting in Ankara led by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim that was broadcast live. The government said it was not an amnesty and that it would not apply to those jailed for murder, terrorism or crimes against state security, nor would it involve any of those held in connection with the coup.

According to state-run Anadolu news agency, the total capacity of Turkey’s prisons is 187,351 people. Since July 15, the number of those in custody has swelled to more than 200,000. Yildirim said that 40,000 people had been detained in July, of which 20,000 were remanded in custody. The EU had criticized the crackdown and expressed alarms at reports of maltreatment of detained coup suspects. – AFP

This article was published on 02/09/2016