Police stop purge victims from attending ‘The Great Gathering’ in Ankara

Turkish police have prevented dozens of Turkey’s two-year-long state of emergency victims from attending a meeting dubbed The Great Gathering in the country’s capital after it was banned by the Ankara Governor’s Office, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Saturday.

The Great Gathering was a meeting scheduled to take place in Yilmaz Guney Stage in Ankara on October 5 and6 in order for Turkey’s dismissed public officers to share their experiences and seek solutions to their problems.

The two-day event was expected to be attended mainly by Turkey’s public officers who were dismissed from their jobs through the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s state-of-emergency decrees.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing AKP declared a state-of-emergency in Turkey in the aftermath of a failed putsch bid on July 15, 2016, and it remained in effect until July 19, 2018.

In the two-year period, the AKP issued many decrees through which more than 150,000 public officers, politicians, businessmen, artists, and journalists were purged over their alleged links to 2016’s failed coup attempt.

The Ankara Governor’s Office on Friday informed the management of the Yilmaz Guney Stage in the capital that the meeting planned to take place this weekend was banned.

The Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) on Friday expressed on social media that prohibiting the event “is an open violation of the fundamental rights to free speech and assembly.”

According to a report by Muzeyyen Yuce from Gazete Duvar, police on Saturday used force to prevent dozens of former public officers, especially those traveling from Istanbul to Ankara, from attending the event.

In several incidences police officers reportedly stopped intercity buses and checked travelers’ IDs, not letting purge victims proceed to the Turkish capital.

A number of people including MP Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who is one of the event organizers, were able to get in the party’s Ankara headquarters after a brawl with police officers who tried to stop them.

Gergerlioglu had invited participants of the event on Friday to the HDP’s provincial building in Ankara to hold the two-day event after it was banned from going ahead in the Yilmaz Guney Stage.

Making a statement in the pro-Kurdish party’s Ankara building, Gergerlioglu emphasized that a total of 134,000 public officers were sacked from their professions while licenses of 20,000 staff working in private schools have been revoked during Turkey’s two-year state-of-emergency.

“A total of 1,5 million people together with their family members are affected by this [the purge]. They [the AKP government] have been carrying out a civilian death [policy] towards the purged for three years. We do not accept that. Turkey has to return to rule of law immediately,” the MP added.

Turkey’s state-of-emergency victims hold Great Gathering to seek solutions


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