Academic sentenced for insulting Turkish president also dismissed from university

Çetin Koçyiğit, a Turkish academic from Kafkas University, has been given a prison sentence of two years, five months for “insulting” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey Purge reported on Sunday.

According to a tweet posted by Koçyiğit, he was also fired from the university upon the court ruling.

Since a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, more than 5,700 academics at 117 universities have been dismissed from their jobs by government decrees issued under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the abortive putsch and terminated in 2018.

Turkey’s Council of Higher Education (YÖK) said the universities were responsible for the dismissal of the academics.

Nine government decrees issued during the state of emergency dismissed thousands of academics and closed more than a hundred universities.

Approximately 380 academics were dismissed for signing a peace declaration accusing the Turkish government of heavy-handed operations in Turkey’s southeastern region, while 2,808 academics working at 15 universities affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of orchestrating the coup attempt, were dismissed after the universities were closed down.

The movement denies any involvement in the failed coup.

A total of 64,533 students were enrolled at those universities.

According to a BBC Turkish report in July, 23,427 academics were affected by the state of emergency.

 Critics say the collective dismissal of academics and collective verdicts without specifying individual crimes violate the principle of “the individuality of crime and punishment in law.”

The state of emergency was initially declared for three months on July 21, 2016 and became effective with a government decree issued on July 23, 2016. With the first decree, No. 667, 15 universities were closed down on the grounds that they were linked to the Gülen movement. The state of emergency was extended multiple times and finally ended in July 2018.

There is no information about the number of administrative staff members working at these universities who were affected, but 2,808 academics were left unemployed and 65,000 students had to seek new universities according to figures from YÖK.

Another state decree in September 2016 targeted around 15,000 research assistants for their alleged links to the Gülen movement. They were part of an Assistant Professor Training Program (ÖYP) that was launched in 2010 to meet the need for academics in Turkey. (TurkeyPurge.com)

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