Dismissed civil servants continue fight to restore rights in Turkey

Ali Riza Gungen has been fighting to get his job back since he was dismissed in November 2016. Once a professor of economics at 19 Mayis University in Samsun, he was among more than 800 academics prosecuted for signing a peace petition opposing military operations in the nation’s southeast that year.

Gungen and many other signatories were acquitted of terror-related charges in September, but he has been unable to recover his former position. Like most civil servants dismissed after the 2016 coup attempt, he was also restricted from traveling abroad. He has been pursuing legal avenues to get his passport reinstated.

“I applied for the reinstatement [of my job],” Gungen told Al-Monitor. “It’s been almost three and a half years. I went to the inquiry commission on state of emergency measures. I applied to the European Court of Human Rights. I applied everywhere and I am still trying, but I could not stay in Turkey under such conditions.”

In early February, Gungen was issued a valid passport and days later joined his wife in Vancouver, Canada, where she has relocated for work after facing similar difficulties in her academic career in Turkey.

Gungen is among a growing number of civil servants who have seen their right to travel abroad restored in recent weeks. On Feb. 21, Turkey’s General Directorate of Civil Registration and Citizenship lifted travel restrictions on more than 11,000 people, gradually reinstating passports to citizens acquitted or not convicted of charges stemming from a state of emergency imposed after the failed coup.

Yet not all of the 150,000 Turkish citizens dismissed in post-coup purges seek to leave their country. Many want to stay and continue their struggle to regain basic rights, such as the ability to work legally and have access to state pensions, health insurance and banking services.

Read the full story on Al Monitor.