Dozens of scholars arrested and 300 sacked in Turkey purge

‘Staggering’ scale of persecution of Turkish academia condemned by scholars’ group

July 21, 2017
Source: Amnesty
Idil Eser, the director of Amnesty International in Turkey, has also been arrested over ‘abetting a terrorist organisation’, the Turkey Purge website has said

More than 300 academics have been sacked and dozens arrested in the latest purge of Turkey’s university system.

Shortly after hundreds of thousands of people joined a mass rally in Istanbul on 16 July against Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the government announced that it had arrested almost 900 people over the past week, including 72 university staff.

On 13 July, the state announced that some 302 academics had been sacked from their jobs for their alleged links to the Gülen movement, which is blamed for last year’s failed military coup. The exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is based in the US, denies any involvement in the 2016 plot.

Of those arrested all are from Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University and Istanbul Medeniyet University, the state-run news agency Anadolu has reported.

Eight are from Boğaziçi, including Koray Caliskan, an academic who worked in the past as a voluntary adviser to Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party, who addressed crowds in Istanbul on 16 July.

Mr Kilicdaroglu, whose party organised the 280-mile “justice” march from Ankara, told the crowd that Turkey was living under dictatorship and pledged to keep challenging the government.

Meanwhile, 64 people being detained were from Istanbul Medeniyet University, 19 of whom were medical faculty professors, Anadolu said. All were suspected users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app that the government says was used by Gülen’s followers.

About 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 state workers including teachers, judges and soldiers, have been suspended in the crackdown under emergency rule that was imposed soon after the attempted military takeover. Some 8,300 academics have been sacked, according to the volunteer-run Turkey Purge website, which documents injustices perpetrated during the Erdoğan crackdown.

On 18 July, Idil Eser, Amnesty International’s Turkey director, was arrested alongside five other human rights activists on charges of “abetting a terrorist organisation”, Turkey Purge reported.

In a recent open letter to President Erdoğan, Robert Quinn, executive director of Scholars at Risk, the New York-based scholar rescue network, described the numbers of academics sacked in the past 12 months as “staggering”.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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