Turkey dismisses over 2,700 in post-coup purges

ANKARA: The Turkish government on Sunday ordered the sacking of more than 2,700 people working in public institutions over their alleged links to “terror” groups, in the latest round of purges since last year’s failed coup.

In a separate emergency decree, the country’s defence procurement agency was ordered to answer to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan instead of the defence ministry in a move widely viewed as a further expansion of his powers.

Turkey’s intelligence service (MIT) also came under Mr Erdogan’s control in August.

A total of 2,756 people, including academics, soldiers and military personal, were removed from different bodies, including the interior, foreign and defence ministries, according to the Official Gazette. All those dismissed were either members of “terror” organisations or had links to structures which were acting against national security, it said.

Seventeen Turkish institutions, including two newspapers and seven associations, have been ordered to close their operations.

More than 140,000 people, including judges, lawyers and academics, have been sacked or suspended since a failed coup in July last year, while some 55,000 people have been arrested over suspected links to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen and the coup attempt.

Turkey claims Mr Gulen and his Hizmet (service) movement, which it calls the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation”, ordered and conducted the attempted coup.

Mr Gulen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies any links to terrorism and the failed putsch.

Mr Erdogan, who has accused Mr Gulen and his followers of infiltrating state institutions, said that the sackings were necessary to remove what he called the “virus” of Mr Gulen’s influence from state bodies.

Critics accuse the government of using the state of emergency legislation to target its opponents, including opposition journalists and pro-Kurdish critics.

The co-leader of the main pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Demo­cratic Party, Selahattin Demirtas, is among those detained on terrorism charges, something he denies.

The decree on the dismissals was published alongside another announcement that men accused of “acting against the constitutional order” would have to wear a single colour uniform, either brown or grey, during court hearings.

The uniform will also apply to those accused of attempting to abolish the Turkish government and will come into force next month.

Source: AFP, Dawn

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