Sunday, May 28, 2017

Turkish Teacher Purge

By Jim Vail
Moscow -- "They won't allow us to leave the country , they won't allow us to work .What do they want us to do ? " stated one woman who had been dismissed from her top civil service job , " My son didn't want to go to school .The other children were picking on him saying that his mother was a terrorist and traitor", and "If
anyone wants to erase you from the institution they just give your name as a Gulenist ". Those are just a few of the disquieting remarks published in a recent report by Amnesty International , published on the 22 May . They sum up the desperate plight of so many former state employees have who have been summarily dismissed from their jobs arbitrary and with the the most abstract
reasoning of 'having connections or being in communication with terrorists".
The title of the report is 'No End in Sight .Purged Public Sector Workers Denied a Future in Turkey.'
Under decrees issued by the Turkish government following a failed coup last July in 2016, the state has embarked on a huge scale purge leading to massive redundancies. The victims are offered no concrete details of the case against them, no right to a fair trial or access to an effective appeal procedure. Once they are fired they can't obtain work even in the private sector never mind their jobs
back in the state. And forget about going abroad . The state has confiscated their passports and forbidden them from travelling !
It is perhaps no coincidence that on the same day of the publication of the report, two teachers who had been on a hunger strike against their dismissals were arrested and imprisoned. An academic ,Nuriye Gulmen , and primary school teacher Semin
Ozaksa bravely embarked on a hunger strike to protest against this injustice.
As many as 100,000 state employees have lost their jobs. Those fired include judges , doctors and as many as 15,000 educational employees. Andrew Gardner, a spokesperson for Amnesty International stated : " The shock waves of Turkey's
post-coup attempt crack down continue to devastate the lives of a vast number of people who have not only lost their jobs but have had their professional and family lives shattered. ....Tainted as terrorists and stripped of their livelihood , a large swathe
of people in Turkey are no longer able to continue in their careers and have had their alternative opportunities blocked ."One former university professor described the loss of work as tantamount to 'Civil death'. Facing an all pervasive blacklist , victims are
being forced to rely on hand outs from relatives and trade unions.
A former dismissed police officer stated : "Nobody calls me , not friends, not family. I don;t have anyone to talk to . The only people I speak to now are my brother and my mother ".
It is evidently clear from this report and other investigations , that those purges are not about a fight against terrorism or an attempt to preserve national security. On the contrary, it is a crude pretext by the ruling 'Justice and development party' to settle old scores with anyone opposed to it. This includes either teachers who go on
strikes or those people who signed a petition calling for peace negotiations with the Kurds.
Unfortunately, the response of the European International community has been too lukewarm . In fact, the European Court of Human Rights has so far rejected individual cases from Turkey on the spurious grounds that 'domestic remedies have been exhausted.'
In fact , very few of the dismissed people have been reinstated. It is not an unreasonable claim to state , that in the far majority of cases, the domestic means are spent ! The Turkish government signed 'The International Covenant on Economic , Social and cultural
Rights ',as well as an agreement with the ' International labor Organisation ' which stipulates all state employees can't be arbitrary dismissed and deprived of a livelihood. They also have the right to legal protection and a right to appeal in a court of law.
It should be the imperative task of all teachers around the world to offer moral and material support to the dismissed teachers . Organizing petitions, demonstrations and letter of protest in support of those dismissed remains an urgent necessity. One of the teachers who had been on a hunger strike protest for 75 days declared :
"We want our jobs back. We have not and will not surrender ".
We will back them up !

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