Thousands of civil servants sacked in Turkey

By on 12/07/2018 | Updated on 24/09/2020
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has just sacked 18,632 civil servants. Pic ©Berk Özkan (Flickr, Creative Commons)

More than 18,000 Turkish public employees have been dismissed by a government decree, ahead of the inauguration of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a reshaped presidential role with significant new powers.

Erdoğan, who has ruled Turkey as prime minister and then president for 15 years, won a snap election last month with 52% of the vote. He was officially sworn in on Monday, having turned the country’s parliamentary democracy into a presidential system.

The new system abolishes the post of prime minister and the unelected vice-presidents. Erdoğan will also have the power to appoint senior members of the judiciary and to issue decrees with the force of law.


One such decree has dismissed 18,632 civil servants, alleging that they had links to the Gülen movement, whom Erdogan blames for the failed 2016 coup attempt.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), the sacked employees included 8,998 police officers from the Security General Directorate, and 649 from the Gendarmerie General Command. Military personnel also lost their jobs, with 3,077 from the army, 1,949 from the air force, and 1,126 from the navy.

Some 1,052 people, including judicial candidates and civil servants were dismissed from the Ministry of Justice, as well as 199 academics, four deputy governors and four district governors. Three newspapers and a TV channel were also shut down.

Thought police

Most of the civil servants were dismissed based on police profiling, the comments made by the institutions that they have been working for, the schools that they have been studying in, and their alleged use of ByLock mobile phone messaging application – a communication tool which the government believes is used by alleged followers of the Gülen movement.

Abdullah Bozkurt, president of the SCF, tweeted that, although the government typically does not disclose evidence on its purges, it mistakenly left information for five people in the decree. Reasons given include their social media profile, smart phone apps and profiling by the police.

“None of these reasons would hold up to the scrutiny of any independent court. In fact, profiling people based on political and personal views are unlawful in #Turkey‘s constitution. #Erdogan is transforming the entire civil service in #Turkey & filling vacant posts with partisans,” he tweeted.

On Monday, Erdogan appointed his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, as head of the country’s finance ministry.

About Catherine Early

Catherine is a journalist and editor specialising in government policy and regulation. She writes predominantly about environmental issues and has held permanent roles at the Environmentalist (now known as Transform), the ENDS Report, Planning magazine and Windpower Monthly, and has also written for the Guardian, the Ecologist and China Dialogue. She was a finalist in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition 2009, and was part of the team that won PPA Business Magazine of the Year 2011 for Windpower Monthly. She also won an outstanding content award at Haymarket Media Group’s employee awards for data-led stories in Planning magazine. She holds a 2:1 honours degree in English language and literature from Birmingham University.

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