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AKP continues mass reassignment of civil servants

18 January 2014

The Turkish government is continuing to reassign its public servants, in order to stall the corruption investigations and to stem any criticism by state employees of the AKP ruling party, by intimidation, it has been alleged.

Hundreds of police officers – from the top down – have been reassigned, many with no new post to go to, as have top bureaucrats suspected of links to ‘Hizmet’, a movement begun by self-exiled Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen. The AKP government is now turning its attention to other civil servants.

Currently, it is illegal to sack a civil servant unless that person has committed a serious transgression, such jobs are, essentially, for life. However, reassignment is another way of disrupting civic process and it has been suggested that civil servants reassigned to lesser posts could well decided resign.

A number of union leaders have spoken out against these frantic moves by the government.

Independent Public Workers’ Union (BASK) President Resul Akay said that these moves were unprecedented in Turkish history and likened them to “massacres”.

Prime Minister Erdogan has justified the government action by claiming that members of the ‘Hizmet’ movement have infiltrated state posts and established a “parallel state” to overthrow his government and that ‘Hizmet’ also orchestrated the corruption probe, in order to undermine his government.

Twenty prosecutors in critical positions were removed and reassigned to minor positions on Thursday. In addition five senior officials leading different departments at the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) were also removed from their post on Friday, in the most recent spate of massive removals in state institutions.

Earlier this month, prosecutor Zekeriya Oz, who had previously been leading the corruption investigation but was later taken off the case, claimed he had been threatened by two high-level jurists sent by Prime Minister Erdogan. According to Oz, the officials warned the prosecutor not to proceed further with the corruption probe. “Otherwise, you will face dire consequences,” the jurists reportedly told Oz.

Meanwhile, President Gul has said that if the proposals to give the government more powers over the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) end up on his desk for approval, he would veto the process, preferring to see a more modest amendment to the laws affecting the judiciary.

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