SAR’s report shows Turkey is global leader in attacks against academia

Scholars, academic staff and students across the globe continue to face threats while Turkey has been singled out as the home to the highest number of reported attacks, according to a report released by Scholar At Risk (SAR) on Tuesday.

In a report titled Free to Think 2017, SAR has documented 257 attacks in 35 countries where higher education participants, whether be lecturers, students or personnel, were subject to killings, violence, disappearances, imprisonment, prosecution, loss of position and travel restrictions between September 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017. The report has said 49 of such incidents took place in Turkey alone.

At least 1,308 scholars, staff and students in Turkey were subject to detention, arrest, warrant, or wrongful prosecution over the past year while total number goes up to 1,404 when expanding the time frame to cover between January 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017, according to SAR.

Of the current figure, SAR said, 990 were imprisoned and the remaining 318 have outstanding arrest warrants.

7,023 academic and administrative personnel were removed from their positions while 294 students were expelled under post-coup emergency decrees in the period from January 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017,

“Until the authorities reverse this order, 6,922 higher education personnel are barred from traveling abroad to seek appropriate employment; from participating in academic conferences, workshops, and other opportunities for international collaboration; and from otherwise exercising their right to freedom of movement. …Authorities have ordered to lift travel restrictions and restore employment status for 101 of these personnel,” added SAR.

The report mentioned the dismissed academics who attempted to escape Turkey illegally in order to avoid further persecution, meanwhile, urging the government to remove travel restrictions.

urkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic 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’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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