|Editorial | Turkishpedia | July 25, 2017|

There was a military coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. It was designed to fail, and it failed. Turkish government used the coup attempt as a pretext to remake the state. With governmental decrees, and without due process of law, it dismissed tens of thousands of public officials from their jobs. These included judges, prosecutors, police officers, military personnel, teachers, and imams. Police made up of about one-sixth of the dismissals. In total, more than 24 thousand police officers were dismissed by seven decrees that were published after the coup attempt. Twenty-four thousand does not seem to be a large number compared to the total number–which exceeds 300 thousand–of police personnel employed by the Turkish National Police (TNP). However, a closer look into the nature of the purges tells a different story.

We estimated the numbers and percentages of purges for different ranks of the TNP. We used the lists that were attached to the governmental decrees to do our calculations. These lists included names, ranks, and police identification numbers (PID) of those who were dismissed. PID’s are consecutive numbers that are assigned to each police officer once s/he is recruited. With the help of some insider knowledge, it is possible to tell the recruitment year of a police officer by looking at his/her PID. For example, police officers with PID numbers that start with 154### were recruited in 1993, or police officers with PID numbers that start with 201### were recruited in 1996. Using these three pieces of knowledge–PID, recruitment year, and rank–we estimated the numbers and proportions of dismissals for each rank.

Before presenting what we found, let us tell some more about police in Turkey. There is only one police organization in Turkey—the TNP. The TNP employs two classes of sworn officers: those who have a rank (ranked officers) and those who do not (line officers). Only the officers with rank can be promoted to a higher rank. Line officers cannot. And there are two classes of ranked officers. The first one of these is those who graduated the Turkish National Police Academy (the Academy). The second one is those who completed Police Sergeant Training Courses during their careers. Ranked officers who graduated from the Academy are promoted faster, and they are the ones who are promoted to the highest ranks, for example, 1st grade police superintendent. This means, the Academy graduates make the core of the executive class of the TNP.

Here is what we found by our calculations. In total, 2706 police superintendent were dismissed by decrees (1st grade = 515, 2nd grade = 289, 3rd grade = 803, and 4th grade = 1099). The number of dismissed police majors was 943. The total number of captains, lieutenants, and sergeants was 6238. The number of police officers without a rank (that is, line officers) was 14054. The highest rank at the TNP is 1st grade police superintendent. Only the chiefs of police departments are 1st grade police superintendent. Deputy chiefs are 2nd grade superintendents, and chiefs of units are 3rd and 4th grade superintendents. Sometimes, police majors are also employed as chiefs of units. Police captains, lieutenants, and sergeants are lower level supervisory ranks. As the rank increases, the sphere of influence also increases. These are the plain numbers. They do not tell much. But, the proportions tell a totally different story.

Among the Academy graduates, 43% of 1st and 2nd grade superintendents were dismissed. This is the percentage of officers who were graduated from the Academy about 25-27 years ago—somewhere between 1990 and 1994. Many of the officers who graduated from the Academy in these years may already have left the TNP for various reasons. For example, many of them may have retired, resigned, or died. Therefore, 43% is a low estimate. Thirty-nine percent of 3rd and 4th grade superintendents were dismissed. Again, this is a low estimate. The percentage of majors who were dismissed is 41, and the percentage of captains, lieutenants, and sergeants who were dismissed is 51. This means, nearly half of the executives of the TNP were dismissed from their jobs after the July 2016 coup attempt—one out of two among the chiefs of police departments; within police departments, one out of two chiefs of units; within units, one out of two supervisors were dismissed.

The question is: What effect did the purge have on the remaining officers? What effect did it have on the TNP?

 

Numbers and Percentages of Police Officers Dismissed by Governmental Decrees1 after the July 2016 Coup Attempt in Turkey
# of officers dismissed % of officers dismissed2
1st/2nd grade superintendent 804 43
3rd /4th grade superintendent 1902 39
major 943 41
captain, lieutenant, sergeant 6238 51
1 Decree numbers: 670, 672, 675, 677, 679, 686, 692. These decrees can be found online at: http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr

2 Percentages of the Academy graduates only.

 

Our guess is that only the officers who promised to yield to Erdogan’s dictatorial power were left behind. In a previous piece, we mentioned Erdogan’s not so secret armies. The TNP was what we were talking about. The executives of the TNP seem to be loyal to their promises to Erdogan. Evidence for that? There is a lot; for example, see the following ‘accidents’ that involved police.

On July 17th, 2017 in Istanbul, police arrested Yasemin Ozkul just after she was released from the hospital three days after giving birth to her third child. She was accused of being a member of a terrorist organization. Why? We do not know, but apparently it was not because she participated in a terroristic activity such as bombing or an assassination. Otherwise, Istanbul governor would brag about his police’s success in a press conference like he did after police raids to ISIS’ safe houses. Most probably, Ozkul was a teacher at a Gulen affiliated school, or had a bank account at Bank Asya, or had a messaging program (byLock) installed on her phone. The arrest was unlawful and inhumane. But, unfortunately Ozkul was not the only person who suffered such horrible oppression.

On July 8th, 2017 in Istanbul, police arrested Yasemin Yilmaz at the hospital after giving birth to her first born child. Police had waited outside the delivery room for three days to make the arrest, as if she would escape. She would not, because she had been a teacher for years. She was arrested for the same accusation; that is, being a member of a terrorist organization. But again, she was not involved in a terroristic activity. We do not know which one the ‘heinous’ crimes she had committed; being a teacher at a Gulen affiliated school or having a bank account at Bank Asya.

On July 4th, 2017 in Izmir, police arrested a pregnant woman, Zara Koc, during the ninth month of her pregnancy. Unlike Ozkul and Yilmaz, Koc was a Kurd and she was not accused of being a member of a terrorist organization. We do not know for what she was accused of, because police did not tell her. She was kept in detention center for 15 days, and the only questions that she was asked were about her husband Bekir. Her detention for 15 days, during the ninth month of her pregnancy, is clearly unlawful if it is not a crime.

Within the last couple months, police arrested 22 women, including Havva Hamamcioglu, Tuba Yazicioglu, Nurhayat Yildiz, Filiz Y., Fatma Ozturk, Hatice Avan, Elif Coskun, Nazli N. Mert, and Aysun Aydemir. Similar to Ozkul, Yilmaz, and Koc, all of these women were either pregnant (within the last months of pregnancy) or had given birth to child days before the arrest. Nurhayat Yildiz lost her twins in prison. Fatma Ozturk was arrested although her physician did not let her to be discharged from the hospital.

Now, think about police who can arrest women at hospitals a few days before or after child delivery. ‘Unlawful’ is not the word that can describe these acts. They are crimes against humanity. And only police who have become puppets of a dictator can do such things.

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