Afghan-Turk School students and teachers detained in Herat

A number of students and teachers from the Afghan-Turk school in Herat province were detained on Sunday morning over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to a report by Tolo News.

According to Afghan officials from the school, a number of NDS and police forces arrived at the school on Sunday morning and detained students and teachers. They were taken to the local police headquarters.

The report said the security forces in Herat also confirmed the detentions. No details were given on exactly how many students or teachers were taken into custody.

Jelani Farhad, spokesman for the governor of Herat, said based on a court order security forces took control of the school due to its links to the Gülen movement. Jilani confirmed that the raid was conducted to change the school director. He also said changes in the Afghan-Turk schools were being made under an agreement between Afghanistan and Turkey.

Meanwhile, the Afghan-Turk ÇAĞ Educational (ATCE) NGO issued a statement shortly after the detentions and condemned the move. They said it was against the constitution, civil law, the criminal code and other applicable laws and international norms.

The statement said the security forces along with education officials stormed the Afghan-Turk boys’ high school in Herat City, the provincial capital. The security forces forced their way inside the school and arrested some students and teachers and took them to an unknown place, the statement said. The incident happened at around 6 in the morning.

The statement added that security forces also raided the girls’ school at around 6:30 a.m. and took control of the school. The Afghan-Turk schools administration termed the act of the security forces as against the law, civil law, international norms and deserving of condemnation.

Meanwhile, Syed Omar Qatali, head of the students’ parents committee, told Pajhwok Afghan News that security forces forcibly entered the boys Afghan-Turk high school and arrested 20 teachers and students.

He said security forces entered the school in 15 vehicles and that they were accompanied by education officials in order to change the director of the school. He asked the government to continue with the old curriculum under the new school director and immediately release the arrested teachers and students.

In February Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education (MoE) formally handed over the management of Afghan-Turk schools to the Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, defying calls by parents and students to keep the schools under Afghan control.

Following a controversial military coup on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government formally asked Afghanistan to hand over control of these schools to the Turkish government.

Turkey claims these schools are run by the Gülen movement. However, former officials from the Afghan-Turk schools have said the schools had nothing to do with politics and that they only provide education to Afghan children.

The school is a member of a chain of Afghan and Turkish educational institutions established in 1995 and have been run under the auspices of the ATCE for the pursuit of excellence in education in Afghanistan. The ATCE has been serving Afghan children for 23 years with 12 high schools, four primary schools, four test preparation schools and dormitories and laboratories across Afghanistan.

According to some reports, the Turkish government reportedly offered a number of incentives in exchange for taking control of these schools. The management of the school is expected to be handed over to the Maarif Foundation.

The controversial Maarif Foundation was established by the Islamist Turkish government led Turkish President Erdoğan after the coup attempt in Turkey to take over the administration of overseas schools allegedly linked to the Gülen movement.

To date, it has taken control of dozens of schools established by volunteers of the Gülen movement in such African countries as Somalia, Guinea, Niger, Sudan and the People’s Republic of Congo.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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