September 29, 2014

‘Code 111' brought to court by former bureaucrats

Government officials previously serving in the Ministry of Family and Social Policy who were dismissed or demoted after being blacklisted under “Code 111,” used to denote individuals believed to be affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement, have sued the ministry over the practice.

Eighty bureaucrats from 20 provinces who were dismissed or demoted after having been blacklisted by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy filed a lawsuit against the practice, appealing for it to be suspended. The ministry's profiling resembles a practice carried out by the Republican People's Party (CHP) government during its single-party rule that involved the categorization of Greek, Armenian and Jewish citizens under the codes “1,” “2” and “3,” respectively. The Ufuk Health Union, whose members were laid off or demoted, also declared that they will initiate legal action against the ministry for its controversial practice.

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, which is facing major allegations of bribery and graft, has accused the Hizmet movement of being behind the allegations. It has responded by purging police officers, members of the judiciary and civil servants whom it believes are close to Hizmet, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refers to as a “parallel structure.”

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Chairman Sadir Durmaz said in a statement on Sept. 14 that the AK Party government has been profiling everyone in an attempt to intimidate people. In reference to a report in the Taraf daily, Durmaz said the government even profiled everyday citizens and small shop owners. The daily reported that in Yozgat, bakery owners who support the opposition parties -- the MHP and the Republican People's Party (CHP) -- have been profiled.

On Sept. 14, the Zaman daily revealed that a special unit was set up in the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, which is administered by the undersecretary of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy and his deputies, to blacklist people believed to be affiliated with the Hizmet movement, which is inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. It was revealed that senior bureaucrats were dismissed arbitrarily and the directors and deputy directors employed in the ministry were demoted, surprisingly, to the post of school teachers.

One of the plaintiffs, N.K., a senior bureaucrat, appealed to the court for the ministry's practice to be suspended on the grounds that the act of the ministry was unlawful. “This practice negatively affects productivity and peace within the Ministry of Family and Social Policy. Demoting someone against whom no proceedings and prosecution have been brought is a breach of law and harmful to the public interest,” N.K. stated in the petition.

It has also been reported that one deputy director has been demoted to the position of a warehouse supervisor, an unusual practice. Calling the ministry's profiling “bullying,” several other individuals have stated that they also plan to file complaints against the ministry.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 28 September 2014, Sunday