Over 16,000 civil servants dismissed in last three years under emergency powers

Under a law rushed through Turkish parliament in 2018, more than 16,000 state workers were sacked in the last three years, according to data revealed by the Presidency. Although the country's state of emergency formally ended in July 2018, the government kept many emergency powers in place with a new, tougher anti-terror law.

Demonstrators hold banners reading 'We want democracy, not state of emergency (OHAL)' during a protest in this file photo.

Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR 

Some 16,385 civil servants have been dismissed from their positions at public institutions, including ministries and universities, in the last three years, after the government retained its emergency powers in place with a new legislation in 2018. 

The state of emergency came to an end in 2018, but the government in the same year passed a tougher anti-terror law which helped it to keep in place some of the measure's powers. 

The new anti-terror allows public institutions to dismiss civil servants under conditions similar to the state of emergency if they are thought to be connected to terror groups.

The legislation was drafted so that it would be valid for three years, but the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is now trying to extend its duration for another three years.

The bill was accepted by the parliament's Planning and Budget Commission and is expected to be submitted to the General Assembly later this week.

The opposition asked the AKP how many civil servants were sacked during the 2018-2021 period on the basis of this new anti-terror law which critics say normalizes the state of emergency in the country.

After the question was left unanswered by AKP deputies of the Planning and Budget Commission, it was addressed to the Interior Ministry and Presidency.

Deputy Interior Minister Mehmet Ersoy said that they do not have the data as dismissal procedures were undertaken by the ministries themselves. He said that the Interior Ministry itself sacked over 5,000 staff in the last three years based on the emergency powers granted to it.

Ersoy defended the move to extend the emergency powers for another three years, saying Turkey was “struggling against the world's most cryptic organization,” in reference to the Gülen network. “It was us, the Interior Ministry, who wanted the [new anti-terror] law to be extended for three years,” he said.

The opposition points out that the government is using the fight against the Gülen network as an excuse to establish an environment of oppression in the country.

The answer eventually came from the Presidency, which said that 16,385 civil servants have been sacked from public institutions in the last three years under the new anti-terror law.

Meanwhile, AKP MP Orhan Yengin announced the number of public workers dismissed between the 2016-2018 years under the state of emergency rule.

Citing the applications made to the State of Emergency Inquiry Commission, which was set up to review dismissal decisions taken by executive decrees, Yengin said that 125,678 state workers lost their jobs during this two-year period.