Justice Ministry working to reinstate passports of some 150,000 purge victims
Turkey’s Justice Ministry is working on a regulation to reinstate the passports of 150,000 public servants whose travel documents were cancelled after they were purged from their posts in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey, according to a government official, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Friday.
Turkey survived a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 following which the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on alleged followers of the Gülen movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Following the coup attempt, more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs, while in excess of 30,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism due to alleged Gülen links.
Turkey’s deputy interior minister, Muhterem İnce, said the Justice Ministry was working to reinstate the passports of the purged civil servants and that the relevant regulation could be included in a judicial reform package the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is considering pressing ahead with.
The civil servants were purged during a two-year-long state of emergency declared by the government several days after the coup attempt. They were prevented from obtaining new passports, while restrictions were imposed even on the passports of their relatives. Some of these restrictions were lifted after the end of the state of emergency in July 2018. The purged civil servants still face a travel ban even though there is no investigation into them.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who constantly brings the problems faced by purge victims to public attention, said the denial of passports to purge victims violates the Turkish Constitution, which protects the freedom of movement.
Due to the travel ban, some purge victims had to take risky journeys to flee abroad to avoid persecution in Turkey during which some of them perished on their way to Europe when the boats carrying them capsized in the Maritsa River or in the waters of the Aegean Sea.