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Amnesty slams Turkey over 'catastrophic' post-coup crackdown

Amnesty International has criticised Turkey for dismissing tens of thousands of public employees after last summer's failed coup, saying the move has had a "catastrophic impact" on their lives and livelihoods.

In a 21-page report, the human rights group said the crackdown following the July 15 coup attempt has left teachers, academics, doctors, police officers and soldiers branded as "terrorists", and unable to return to their careers. They have been forced to rely on savings, the support of friends or family or to take on irregular jobs, Amnesty added.

More than 100,000 Turkish public servants have been dismissed and banned from civil service through decrees issued under the state of emergency for alleged connections to groups listed as terror organisations.

More than 47,000 people have also been arrested for alleged links to the coup.

The Turkish government said the purge is necessary to weed out followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for orchestrating the coup, and combat terror.

The government has also said it is forming an appeals commission to review the cases of those who insist they were wrongfully dismissed. Amnesty said the commission lacks independence to make it effective.

Amnesty also said the dismissals have been arbitrary and links to terror groups are unproven, devastating the lives of the individuals and their families.

The purged employees have also had their passports cancelled, blocking them from seeking employment abroad.

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty's researcher on Turkey, said: "The authorities must end these arbitrary dismissals immediately, and reinstate all those who are found not to be guilty of wrongdoing.

"Those who have been dismissed should be given access to a swift and effective appeal procedure in order that they can clear their names, be compensated and return to their careers."

Meanwhile, authorities have raided the homes of academic Nuriye Akman and teacher Semih Ozakca in Ankara and detained them.

The two had been on a hunger strike - refusing food but drinking liquids - for more than 70 days in protest over their dismissals under the state of emergency.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey's main opposition party, called for their immediate release and for them to be reinstated to their former jobs, accusing the government of regarding "anyone who stands up for their rights as a threat".

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