Turkish purges exposed by Council of Europe

A view of Ankara [Georgi Gotev]

The breadth and depth of the purges carried out following the coup attempt in Turkey was exposed today (19 December), after the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly published facts and figures showing the extent of the crackdown.

A ten page report by Ingebjørg Godskesen, (Norway, European Conservatives Group), and Marianne Mikko, (Estonia, Socialist Group) gives a timeline of developments and aggregated data on the purges following the 15 July failed coup.

Turkish authorities, backed by a large consensus in society, immediately blamed the movement led by Fettulah Gülen for the coup. State institutions needed to be cleansed of those loyal to the Gülen movement, which was branded a terrorist organisation in 2016, according to government authorities.

In education alone, 15,200 staff members from the 930,000 strong Education Ministry were dismissed. The licences of 21,000 teachers in private schools (mostly teachers in Gülenist schools) were also revoked.

During the state of emergency, several “Decrees with Force of Law” (“Kanun Hükmünde Kararname”, KHK) were published, according to the report. This faciliated the dismissal of civil servants, members of the judiciary, members of the public service, the Turkish Armed Forces, the Coast Guard and the Turkish National Police.

Another practical consequence of the decree laws has been the liquidation of associations and companies and the seizure and confiscation of their assets.

A total of 691 companies suspected to have links with the Gülen Movement (including giants such as Boydak Holding, Kaynak Holding, Koza İpek Holding and Fi Yapı) have been seized so by the Saving Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). According to media reports, TMSF hired three financial institutions to advise on the sale of the seized companies.

Council of Europe: Turkey must separate coup plotters from Gülen employees

Turkey must produce clear evidence in pursuing participants in a failed coup and avoid targeting teachers and journalists simply because they worked for firms run by the Muslim cleric Ankara portrays as its mastermind, the head of the European rights watchdog said Thursday (8 September).

The report details measures affecting the Kurdish party HDP, including the arrest of the party’s co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

Turkey arrests leaders of pro-Kurdish HDP party

The two joint leaders of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) have been detained, along with at least 11 MPs, allegedly because of their reluctance to give testimony for crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda.”

On 29 September 2016, ten TV channels including Hayatın Sesi, Azadi TV, Jiyan TV, Van TV, TV10, Denge TV and Zarok TV were removed from TÜRKSAT, the national satellite platform, due to “threats they pose to national security and their support for terrorist groups”.

On 30 September 2016, 12 TV channels (including İMC TV, Hayatın Sesi, TV 10, Van TV, Jiyan TV, Azadi TV and ZarokTV) and 11 radio channels were closed.

The buildings of Denge TV, Birlik Medya TV and Van TV were sealed.

On 3 October 2016, the France-based satellite company Eutelsat removed the signal of Med Nuçe TV (a Kurdish language television channel broadcasting from Belgium), which contested the lack of legal basis for such a decision.

According to European Federation of Journalist sources, Eutelsat SA has been put under pressure by the Turkish Radio Television Supreme Council to remove the signal of this station, considered as a pro-PKK television channel by Turkish authorities.

European journalists brand Turkey 'biggest prison in the world'

The Association of European Journalists (AEJ) has called on the European institutions to exert more pressure on Turkey, in face of further restrictions on freedom of expression and the press. EurActiv Germany reports.

The Commercial Court of Paris ruled on 16 and 17 November 2016 that Newroz TV and Med Nûçe TV should resume broadcasting, stating that Belgium’s authorised radio and television institution has the cut off authority, not Eutelsat.

According to the press trade association, 2,500 journalists have become unemployed since the adoption of the decree-laws.

On 6 October 2016, media reported that Turkey’s Press Advertisement Institution, the authority for distributing official adverts to newspapers, announced that it would not direct any business to publications whose owners, partners or executives face terrorism charges.

Newspapers who do not fire journalists who face such charges within five days will also not benefit from official adverts, according to a regulation published in the Official Gazette on 5 October 2016.

In a nutshell, the Council of Europe rapporteurs find that since the failed coup;

  • over 125 000 persons were dismissed;
  • legal action was intended against 92,607 suspects, 39,378 of whom have so far been arrested, as part of the investigation into the failed coup attempt;
  • 3,673 judges and prosecutors were dismissed and 2,700 suspended;
  • 2,410 judges and prosecutors were in detention, 769 under judicial control;
  • 177 arrest warrants against judges and prosecutors were issued, while 122 judges and prosecutors had been released;
  • 177 media outlets were shut down and 11 reopened;
  • over 140 journalists were arrested;
  • about 1,800 associations/foundations were shut down;
  • about 2,100 schools, dormitories, and universities were shut down.

EU ministers criticise Turkey but not ready to halt membership talks

European Union foreign ministers yesterday (14 November) criticised Turkey’s crackdown on alleged supporters of a failed military coup in July but Austria’s call to suspend Ankara’s EU membership bid failed to garner enough backing.