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The Symbol Document of Lawlessness in Turkey!

If you want to learn how the Constitution, laws, and universal legal principles are completely disregarded with a single document and show it to others, I can say that the circular dated July 21, 2016, from the Ministry of National Education of Turkey is the document you are looking for. This document, signed by Kemal Şamlıoğlu, who is currently the Deputy Minister of National Education and was acting as the Deputy Director-General at the time, is of a quality that will be exhibited in the genocide museum along with decree laws (KHKs).

With this circular, which will be taught as the ‘symbol document of lawlessness’ in law faculties, decisions are made to cancel the work permits of teachers, educators, administrators, instructors, and other staff working in schools and dormitories that have trustees appointed, or even those with connections to the Gülen movement, and not to grant them work permits again.

In the normal legal system, a ‘circular,’ as you call it, cannot establish a new rule or regulation. It is meant to draw attention to the application of existing laws and regulations. However, this document, without any concrete crime or criminal involved, introduces a provision that declares over 50,000 educators collectively guilty and goes on to punish them. Furthermore, this unlawful circular provides broad discretionary powers to the enforcers without specifying who will enforce it, making it susceptible to arbitrary applications and lacking a legal basis. In fact, no law or regulation has ever granted such authority to any administrative authority.

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The phrase “schools and dormitories subject to investigations by prosecutors” is actually sufficient to demonstrate their intentions, ignorance, recklessness, and lawlessness. In a normal rule of law, investigations are not initiated generally without concrete allegations against individuals; it is not customary to initiate an investigation against an entire school. The audacity is such that they do not neglect to give instructions to promptly report even the schools and dormitories where no investigation has been initiated yet.

Undoubtedly, this circular is one of the most important written documents that reveal how the goals of lawlessness, established behind closed doors by disregarding the Constitution, laws, and universal legal principles, are put into practice.

Can the work permits of teachers working in private educational institutions be canceled? Of course, they can. This is already clearly regulated in the law. Article 10 of Law No. 5580 on Private Educational Institutions, titled “Cancellation of Work Permit and Temporary Assignments,” explicitly states, “The work permit of administrators, teachers, specialist instructors, and master instructors who have been determined to fail twice with inspection reports shall be canceled by the authority granting the permit.” It clearly defines the circumstances under which permits can be canceled.

The current circular, by ignoring the law and creating new justifications that are not present in the law (by those who prepared the circular), has unjustly deprived tens of thousands of teachers and employees of their jobs without any investigation against them.

Article 38 of the Constitution states, “Criminal liability is personal,” and “No one shall be deemed guilty until proven guilty by a final judgment.” The “principle of legal security,” which aims to ensure the legal security of individuals and is one of the prerequisites of the “rule of law principle,” requires rules to be predictable, individuals to have confidence in the state in all their actions and transactions, and the state to avoid methods that undermine this confidence in its regulations. Another prerequisite of the rule of law principle, the “principle of certainty,” means that regulations must be clear, explicit, understandable, and applicable without causing any hesitation or doubt for both individuals and the administration.

However, this circular completely disregards all these principles and, without hesitation, declares working in schools praised and attended by members of the ruling party as a crime overnight. Being a teacher in a school that was praised just a few years ago is suddenly considered a crime.

After this unlawful circular, the work permits of teachers and staff in private schools and dormitories were canceled, and they are now eligible to obtain work permits according to the objective criteria specified in the law, which apply to everyone.

In response to this injustice, the victims filed a lawsuit to the 8th Chamber of the Council of State for the annulment of the circular, and six years later, it was ruled that the circular was unlawful. The injustice is so significant that even the Council of State, which functions like the judiciary of the ruling party, could not ignore it, and it decided to annul the phrase “no work permit will be granted again, and this record will be entered into the system” in the circular.

Following this decision, the private school teachers and staff whose work permits had been canceled can now obtain work permits based on the objective criteria specified in the law, which apply to everyone.

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Nurullah Albayrak is lawyer and columnist at TR724.com

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