Turkish police chief quits in protest of police officer purge

Duzce Police Chief Ayhan Buran, who announced his resignation last Thursday, said he decided to leave his position because he was no longer able to withstand the pressure imposed on him by the Interior Ministry to purge dozens of police officials under his command.

Following a Dec. 17 corruption and bribery operation that has extended to the government, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) sought to purge individuals whom it claims are supporters of a so-called parallel structure in every public agency. Almost 15,000 police officers have been removed from their positions. Many experienced officers in the fields of intelligence, counterterrorism and public safety were reassigned to more junior positions. The purges are believed to be based on profiling those who are said to be part of the Hizmet movement.

Buran was asked to reassign 90 police officers in Duzce within two months although those police officers had just been reassigned. He objected to the ministry’s decision, saying no experienced police officers would be left under his command.

Buran had reportedly wanted to resign during the first reassignment of police officers under his command but changed his mind; however, he could no longer withstand it when the Interior Ministry submitted another list of police officers to the Duzce Governor’s Office to be reassigned.

“These purges do not comply with professional dignity,” the police chief said.

Buran bid farewell to his colleagues, reportedly saying: “I worked day and night in every department of the police. I have worked very hard for this post. some are busy with reassigning police officers in an unusual manner.”

The dismissals are reportedly taking place under the orders of Interior Minister Efkan Ala, who was appointed to his position in a Cabinet reshuffle after the corruption investigation broke, replacing former Interior Minister Muammer Guler, whose son was detained on Dec. 17 in the first round of the investigation. Media reports note that the officials who were removed from their duty were the ones who conducted major operations against corruption and bribery.

Buran, who had earlier served as police chief in the provinces of Hakkari and ElaziG, also denied claims that his resignation was related to family reasons.

In a similar move last month, Tunceli Police Chief Hayati Yilmaz also resigned from his post in protest of the purge of dozens of police officers.