Article: State of Emergency Dismissals Are a Legacy of September 12

State of Emergency Dismissals Are a Legacy of September 12


Hüsnü Öndül

7 September 2016



Let us remember that Turkey was ruled by state of emergency procedures for a total of 41 years, including 26 years during 1923-1987 and 15 years during 1987-2002. Let us remember plotters of the 12 September coup d’état introduced 669 laws in so short a timeframe between 1980 and 1983.

It seems that the government has adopted the coup plotters’ procedures following 15 July. It has issued 5 decree-laws for now. It has been suspending rights and freedoms by way of decree-laws and has been going down the road to reconstruct the state… The Grand National Assembly of Turkey is by-passed.

There is one thing more: the government has been subjecting the society to a witch-hunt. It is charging those expressing opinions that it does not like with being a “Fetöist, terrorist” and has the power to do all kinds of wrong against them including arrests, detentions, dismissals, and seizure of property. It blatantly disregards the principles of rule of law and legal certainty as well.

In fact no one says “do not investigate the coup attempt.” Yet investigative procedures, which should have been conducted with respect to the rights of people, are maintained arbitrarily. Nor is this all. It expands the scope of investigations so as to include those who are against coups and wars and turns to cover all dissidents. Journalists and authors are subjected to arrest and detention measures.

What about the world of academia? Remember the decree-laws. 2,346 academics, including Academics for Peace, have been dismissed from universities. Just like the dismissal of academics based on the Martial Law No. 1402 during the 12 September military coup d’état period… It is expected that more dismissals are on the way… State of emergency dismissals are a legacy of 12 September. I guess to be an heir to the legacy of 12 September is not something quite desirable.

Our friend, human rights defender Haldun Özen, now in the stars, had told us about the witch-hunt against academics and other public employees in the post-12 September coup d’état in his book Entelektüelin Dramı: 12 Eylül’ün Cadı Kazanı (Intellectual’s Drama: The Crucible of 12 September, İmge Publications, 2002). When he was writing the book, I was the chairperson of İHD. He had asked me to provide him with files about the time. I then had sent the files to brother Haldun through a friend, Milyar, who used to work at the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.

The book talks about the experiences and struggle for rights of public employees (academics, teachers, doctors, engineers, etc.) who were dismissed based on the Martial Law No. 1402 during the 12 September military coup d’état period. The book has a chapter called “1402 as a Human Rights Problem” (pp. 285-331).

Haldun Özen was one of the founders of İHD and the secretary of the “1402’ers Commission” established within İHD in 1988. İHD had established this commission via its general executive board decision of 2 April 1988. The chair of the commission was Nurkut İnan, while its secretary member was Haldun Özen. Veli Lök, Türkan Süren, Orhan Süren, Tayyar Bora, Yakup Kepenek, Fevzi Çimen, Asım Arı, Rüştü Apaydın, Mehmet Danışman, Aydın Aybay, Nuri Karacan, and Rona Aybay were members.

İHD held the “Congress on the Right to Work and Education for 1402’ers” on 1 October 1988 at the Türk-İş meeting hall in Ankara. The commission had held that the issue was related to the ILO Convention No. 111. A final 6-article document was adopted at the end of the congress. A collective petition was filed with the office of the prime minister. Reinstatement and employees’ personal rights were demanded. İHD drafted a report entitled “Martial Law No. 1402, Its Implementation, and the New Government Bill” in February 1989 to be presented to the ILO General Assembly. The report also incorporated official information provided by the government in respect of a parliamentary question tabled by SHP deputy Fuat Atalay. According to the official figures, 4,891 public employees had been removed from office based on Law No. 1402 during the 12 September period. 4,509 people were forced out of the martial law zone. 1,485 persons out of those who had been removed from office, 2,640 persons out of those who had been forced out of the zone were still objectionable. 70 out of 95 university professors, 633 out of 2,515 teachers, 119 out of 1,298 public servants, and 16 out of 317 workers who had been removed from office were still objectionable. İHD’s report was presented to the ILO through Türk-İş on 28 February 1989. Consequently, ILO initiated a monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey.

Haldun Özen also offers some recommendations at the end of his book. Let me finish this piece with one of them: “The 1402 process also points to a method of solution. That there indeed is a solution against all odds. That a solution can be found even under the most challenging conditions. However organized work should be joined with personal efforts to find this solution… That positive results can be obtained sooner or later if the objectives are defended resolutely by developing methods fitting the matter and if productive activities are carried out step by step… That we need to resist and work with the same determination in new purges to come…” (pp. 397-398).