Turkey’s education affected by dissent crackdown

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Turkey's education affected by dissent crackdown

Due to the failed coup attempt in Turkey, the government has been conducting a major crackdown on coup plotters. Yet, the scope of the operation was not limited to the latest events; thousands in different industries are now affected.

CCTV’s Michal Bardavid reports. Follow Michal Bardavid on Twitter @michal_bardavid

Turkey\'s education affected by dissent crackdown

Earlier this year, hundreds of Turkish academics were targeted after they signed the petition known as the "Academicians for Peace Initiative" that expressed concern over the conflict with Kurds in southeastern Turkey. CCTV's Michal Bardavid reports.

A massive crackdown is underway in Turkey. Military officers, journalists, educators, totaling over 60,000 have been detained, arrested or suspended. They are all suspected of having connections to the failed coup attempt on July 15 or believed to have links to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric in self-exile, accused to be the mastermind behind the coup plot. 

Education Industry affected by the coup attempt most, over 15,000 employees of the education ministry have been suspended and are being investigated.

Turkey’s High Education Board has also ordered the forced resignation of 1,577 university deans. Yet, the government’s conflict with academics is not something new. 

Earlier this year, hundreds of Turkish academics were targeted after they signed the petition known as the “Academicians for Peace Initiative” that expressed concern over the conflict with Kurds in southeastern Turkey. 

One faculty member at Van Yuzuncu Yil University was recently suspended from her post as part of the current crackdown. Yet she believes it was her signature on the petition that made her a target. 

“The Academicians for Peace initiative was an anti-military platform more than anything; it did not and cannot have anything to do with the Gulen movement or the coup attempt,” Emine Yonden, a suspended faculty of Van Yuzinci Yil Univeristy said. “Therefore our suspension from our posts is completely illegal and has discredited us. Most importantly, this launched process is an illegal one.” 

In June, the government was also facing a protest by Turkish high schools who were concerned the system was becoming more conservative. It began when a group of students turned their back to the school principal during his speech at the graduation ceremony, sparking protests that spread to hundreds of schools across the country.

“They were demanding that education be completely scientific and secular. Protesting high school students were also against Fethullah Gulen who has stolen their future. Gulenists did this by stealing university questions and answers for years.” Bora Celik said, a student’s union leader from a Turkey high school.

One Turkish high school union leader expressed his opinion that the Gulen movement was also behind the scandalous stolen university tests in 2010.

The government is expected to hire more than 20,000 teachers to fill the gap created by thousands of educators suspended during the crackdown. It will be critical to see how the education ministry will manage the changes before the new school year begins.