District municipality in Turkey searches for ‘ghost' employees hired by previous AKP admin

The newly elected pro-Kurdish DEM Party district municipality of Artuklu, in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin, has identified around 100 “ghost” employees hired by the previous ruling AKP administration who have not shown up for work since the new co-mayors took office. 

The Artuklu Municipality signage includes Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, and Assyrian.

Duvar English

The Artuklu district municipality in the southeastern province of Mardin run by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy and Equality (DEM) Party on May 5 revealed the extent of the damage left by the former Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration, causing setbacks.

The DEM Party administration received its mandate on April 13, almost a week later than many municipalities.

In the days that the party awaited its official mandate, the leaving mayor finalized multiple financial transactions and removed everything from the municipality warehouses including aid packages, according to reporting by the Mesopotamia Agency (MA).

Artuklu co-mayor Mehmet Ali Amak from the DEM Party poses in front of the municipality logo.

Co-mayors Mehmet Ali Amak and Münevver Ölker raised irregularities in the former municipality’s employment method.

According to Amak, the AKP administration employed workers through the state-run Turkish Employment Organization (İŞKUR), which pulled the workers after the DEM Party won in the district. 

Now, the municipality is having difficulty finding sanitation workers.  

The names listed on the municipality’s payroll were absent from the field for a month, stated Amak.

He continued, “We are truly curious as to where these people are. Looking at their surnames, it is easy to identify how they have landed these positions in the first place.”

Accordingly, the posts were filled with the daughters, sons, siblings, spouses, and nieces of senior AKP officials.

“AKP Mardin chair Vahap Alma’s nephew and brother, who were hired as his driver and security detail have not set foot in the municipality building despite receiving paychecks for the last 15 months,” the co-mayor noted. 

Similar nepotism hires amounted to around 100 employees at the municipality.

The co-mayors stated the former municipal administration under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spent millions of Turkish liras days before they left office,

In the month before the elections, the 30 million liras ($930,000) in the municipality deposit were emptied. The spending was for short-term services such as rent, organizations, and stationery.   

“We would not raise an issue if the money was spent for public benefit. Despite the three million lira ($93,000) stationery costs we saw on the invoice, our municipality workers cannot find a loose sheet of paper to begin work,” co-mayor Amak stated. 

The pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DCP) won the Artuklu district municipality in the 2014 local elections but was replaced with a trustee administration appointed by the Interior Ministry. 

Since the trustee mayor came into office, the municipality has been racking up debts, which have reached 200 million liras ($6.2 million). 

The trustee mayor had also removed the letters "Q, W, X," used in the Kurdish alphabet from the road signs in the district, according to reporting by online news outlet Medyascope

The signs include Turkish and Kurdish names for villages and neighborhoods in Artuklu, which houses a majority Kurdish population. 

Amak said that they valued honest work and democracy, noting the public has significant and valid demands after years of neglect. 

The DEM Party plans to dismiss “ghost” employees who do not show up.

“We do not intend to fire anyone who does honest work to serve the people of Artuklu, as actual employees of this municipality,” Amak added.

The administration would also file criminal complaints regarding the financial irregularities they have detected by the former AKP mayors.