Professor banned from office after dismissal

Turkish philosopher describes shock at being stopped from packing up office after sudden dismissal

January 23, 2017
Map of Turkey
Source: iStock

A Turkish philosophy professor has described how she was stopped from removing her belongings from her former office after her sudden dismissal.

Nilgün Toker, who was head of the philosophy department at İzmir’s Ege University, is one of 631 academics sacked this month thanks to a government decree issued on 6 January, according to Turkey Purge, a website run anonymously by journalists.

Their dismissal is the latest mass sacking to follow the failed coup in July 2016, which has seen thousands of university staff either suspended, sacked or jailed for their alleged support for Fethullah Gulen, the US-based Islamic cleric accused of masterminding the plot.

Critics of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have claimed that he is using the failed putsch to persecute his political opponents who deny involvement with the attempt to oust him last summer.

Since the coup, almost 7,000 academics have lost their jobs, many of whom have been placed on an official blacklist that makes it impossible for them to find alternative work, Turkey Purge claims.

Some 124,000 have been sacked from public office so far, with 89,000 detained and 42,000 arrested, it added.

Professor Toker is one of more than 1,000 intellectuals who signed the “Academics for Peace” petition in January 2016, which called for a ceasefire between Kurdish militants and government forces.

Turkish citizens who signed the document, which was also supported by the US scholar Noam Chomsky, were subsequently accused of treason by the Turkish president, leading to disciplinary action against more than 500 of the signatories.

According to Turkey Purge, Professor Toker described on her social media account how she was prevented from returning to her office by her ex-colleagues.

“I worked at this building for 30 years and I have greeted almost everyone at this building over the past years,” she said.

“Now I want to get into there and pack my stuff and bid farewell – doing this, I don’t want to be alone, I wanna be with my friends but they don’t let me in,” she concluded, adding: “I won’t forget the names of those who are responsible for this.”

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