France’s National Scientific Research Center freezes relations with Turkey’s TÜBİTAK

In the light of massive dismissals of scholars in Turkey from their positions, France’s National Scientific Research Center (CNRS)decided to freeze relations with Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Council (TÜBİTAK), Birgün daily reported.

According to the report, the CNRS has decided on three issues during a convention held on April 24-25, 2017. CNRS has given a message of solidarity with Turkis sociologist Pınar Selek, it was underlined that repeatedly reverting on the acquittal decisions of Selek has now reached a point of harassment. CNRS requested from French government to send an official warning to the Turkey’s authorities regarding the issue. French scholars said in a written statement that ‘The pressure that Pınar Selek has been subjected to is a symbol of the pressure that her colleagues in Turkey have been facing.’

CNRS has also discussed  the issue of  TÜBİTAK’s massive dismissals of scholars. In the statement, the CNRS has emphasized that a letter sent by TÜBİTAK to all academic journals on March 24, 2017 has showed that a political purge was clearly attempted in the institution. In the face of these practice, the CNRS executive council unanimously decided to freeze relations with TÜBİTAK.

Turkey’s Minister of Science, Industry and Technology, Faruk Özlü, has announced on March 3, 2017 that a total of 1,846 scientific staff and personnel have been sacked from the TUBİTAK due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement. TÜBİTAK has originally around 4,500 employees.

In a statement, Minister Özlü, who said that 440 people were expelled from his ministry for the same reason, has stated the firing of employees at TÜBİTAK and the ministry began in February 2014 following the eruption of a corruption scandal in which senior Turkish government ministers and family members of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were involved in late 2013.

Both for the corruption investigation and a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 the government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blames the Gülen movement, while the movement strongly denies any involvement in either.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, about 150,000 people including at least 7,316 academics, 4,070 judges and prosecutors were dismissed from their duties over alleged due to their alleged connection to the Gülen movement. According to a statement from Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, 2017 a total of 113,260 people have also been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement in the last eight months alone, while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention.’s most recent figures show that the number of jailed people over alleged links with Gülen has passed 50,000.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.

May 2, 2017

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