PURGE, POLITICS, AND HUNGER

Report: Four Years On, Still No Remedy For Turkey’s Purge Victims

Four years after the enactment of the first government decree to dismiss public workers, the situation has only grown unbearable for 150,000 people amid a lack of prospect for a remedy.

Abdullah Ayasun
8 min readJul 14, 2020

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Turkey’s academics and students protest a crackdown on a well-known university in Istanbul in this archived photo taken after the 2016 coup attempt.

On July 20, 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency to rule the country with emergency decrees without the need for parliamentary approval. It was presented as an essential measure to fight back the threat against the government five days after an abortive coup. But what emerged since then has only cemented an unwritten emergency regime, even two years after its official end, with no prospect of remedy for 150,000 or so people who were summarily discharged from their jobs in public service without any semblance of due process. The social cost of the post-coup purge, a report reveals, has been tremendous for its far-reaching consequences for thousands.

On Monday, the Platform of Justice For Victims released a comprehensive report documenting the sheer size of the human rights abuses, the problems that purge victims have faced during a job search, the social alienation and denial of access to housing, and many other woes that have gripped their lives over the course of past several years. The report, the third of its kind to chronicle the plight of KHK people (a term referred to public servants who were sacked by emergency decrees), constructed its findings through an in-depth survey with 3,305 people. According to its major findings, at least 50 percent of the KHK population had to move from where they lived, 46 percent of them are still unemployed and 44 percent of the KHK people have someone in the family imprisoned in the post-coup crackdown.

The types of socio-economic woes that have afflicted the purge victims, according to the 1500-page report, could be outlined in a set of categories as follows: first, the victims’ biggest predicament is economic (97,9%); secondly, psychological despair constitutes the second biggest source of their ongoing tribulation (88,6%); the disreputability and social alienation is the third major problem (83,7%); fourth is the…

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun