The decision of the International Labor Organization (ILO) following the failed 2016 coup in Turkey

On 15 July 2016, a failed coup d’état took place in Turkey against President Tayyip Erdogan and state institutions. The disintegration of democratic rule, the threat to human rights, and secularism were among the reasons cited for the coup. The coup attempt was carried out by a small section of the Turkish Armed Forces, who referred to themselves as the ‘Peace at Home Council’. The Turkish government linked the coup plotters to the Gulen movement, which is deemed a terrorist organization by the Turkish government. Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic scholar, preacher, and one-time opinion leader currently residing in Pennsylvania after a self-imposed exile, led the Gulen movement. Gulen has denied any link to the coup attack. Mass arrests have occurred following the event.


A group of Government Workers known as “Yuksel Direniscileri” asking to the Turkish Government to get their work back. from:

At least 20,000 Turkish citizens were detained due to alleged links with the Gulen movement. Turkish officials wanted Gulen’s repatriation; however, the Justice Department and State department found the evidence presented by their Turkish counterparts to be incoherent and non-credible. The detainees included 5,000 members of the educational sector and 21,000 teachers whose licenses were revoked, and national security numbers were added to the Turkish database to restrict future employment. However, evidence to suggest the loyalty of 20,000 citizens to Gulen was weak. Moreover, theories suggested that the coup was staged. After the coup’s first week, thousands of public servants and soldiers were purged. Nonetheless, ‘the list of alleged coup plotters was so extensive that it was impossible to put it together in the hours after the coup’.[1] Individuals who had passed away weeks and months before the coup were part of this list. Suspicion on the quality and honesty of the investigation grew. The United States, German intelligence, and the British Government have doubted the official Turkish narrative.


According to the Turkish Government, over 135,000 public servants, including around 40,000 teachers, have been dismissed or suspended since the government resorted to repression after the failed coup in July. No source of income and allegation of connection with a terrorist organization not only entails financial losses but poses threats of ostracism from the Turkish society altogether. The International Labor Organization has denounced the detaining of these individuals and has maintained that this was done without any supervision from the judicial bodies, without proper investigation, and without the ‘principle of presumption of innocence and rights’ accorded by ILO Conventions.[2]

The Turkish government states that the dissolution of the Action Workers’ Union Confederation (Aksiyon-Is), and its associated trade union was due to their connection with the so-called Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ/PDY), which the Turkish government claims were responsible for the attempted coup. The government maintains that no application was filed to the Inquiry Commission by Aksiyon-Is and its affiliated trade unions, failing to use all available domestic channels and remedies.


However, the ILO committee’s findings note that the decision and power to declare a state of emergency for the dissolution of these unions was granted to the Council of Ministers when the decision-making power should rest with the parliament. This authorization allowed the executive body to issue Decrees with the force of law in place of the parliament’s ordinary legislative procedures. Therefore, all domestic channels for seeking legal amends have now lapsed.


The ILO stated that individuals having membership of trade unions associated with FETÖ/PDY was entirely lawful under Article 2 of Convention No. 87. They maintained that these trade unions had been constituted and operated lawfully until the state of emergency was declared. Therefore, it is unlawful to punish workers for simply having membership in a trade union without proof of involvement, a specific action, or even knowledge that they may have had possible affiliations with a terrorist organization. Aksiyon-Is maintains that all these dismissals took place before any investigations and in the absence of due process. Aksiyon-Is further argues that none of the detainees were allowed to contest the decision of their dismissal to a neutral body, which violates Article 8 of the Convention.

United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) Executive Board dated 24 March 2021, numbered GB.341/INS/13/5/, concludes that the dismissals made with the Statutory Decrees and the closure of institutions in Turkey are contrary to the International Conventions No. 158 and No. 87 and therefore illegal.


Erdogan’s AKP Government is asked to rectify this unlawfulness. Although it has been over ten months since the decision, the AKP Government has not fulfilled its requirements, nor has it shown any interest in implementing it. The ILO must uphold its decision and put pressure on the AKP Government, considering the unlikelihood of implementing the decision by themselves if left unsupervised.


Fulfillment of the decision taken by the ILO Executive Board is obligatory both in terms of International Law and Turkish Law. The following petition provides an in-depth course of action to rectify its unfairness.

The petition asks the ILO to uphold its decision and act in favor of the implementation of the Board of Directors’ decision please take a moment to read through the cause and support. Contribute to the ILO and AKP Government officials’ action by signing.


Written by Mahnoor Tariq



Michael Rubin, (2017), ‘Did Erdogan stage the coup?’,  AEIdeas
David Lepeska, (2020), The ‘gift from god’ that crushed Turkish democracy, Retrieved from

Source URL:—ed_norm/—relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_775695.pdf
Source URL: Human Rights Watch,


[1] (Rubin, 2017)


1 Comment

  1. Thank you

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