Turkish educator Halil Dinç passes away in Greece after fleeing persecution in Turkey

Halil Dinç, a 45-year-old Turkish educator who fled to Greece from the persecution of the Islamist government led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, died on Wednesday from a heart attack.

According to a report by online news outlet TR7/24, Dinç used to be the general manager of the Cemal Şaşmaz High Schools for Girls under the umbrella of Samanyolu Colleges in Ankara province. The schools were closed by a government decree under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Dinç was reported to have recently crossed the Evros River between Turkey and Greece, leaving his wife and two children in Turkey, to escape the persecution of the Erdoğan regime targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement. The schools administered by Dinç had won a number of medals in national and international science competitions.

The awards for Afet Keskin and Nihal Özgür, who were students at the now-closed Cemal Şaşmaz High Schools for Girls, were bestowed by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following presentation of a short film titled “Sınırları Aş” (Exceed the Limits), which was shot by the students and came first in the International Informatrix Short Film Competition.

Esma Uludağ, a 35-year-old Turkish woman who fled to Greece from the persecution of the  Erdoğan regime in Turkey, also died on the night of April 29 from a stroke. The mother of three children aged 3, 7 and 10, Uludağ was a civil servant in a district governor’s office in İzmir province until she was dismissed over alleged links to the Gülen movement by a government decree issued under a now-ended state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The crackdown on critical thinking in Turkey with an unprecedented witch hunt targeting teachers, academics and other professionals in the education sector has dealt a huge blow to free thought in Turkey, according to a report released by SCF.

The government of President Erdoğan has jailed some 20,000 instructors and arbitrarily fired 34,185 public school teachers and 5,719 academics including professors from state universities within the last two years alone. They were branded as “terrorists” and “coup plotters” without any effective administrative or judicial probe and as such marked for life.

The government shut down 1,069 privately run schools, most of which were the nation’s best performing science schools and were affiliated with the Gülen movement, and closed down 15 universities that were run by privately held foundations. As a result, 2,465 academics and 54,350 teachers instantly became unemployed. With the support staff who worked in these schools, the total number of people who lost their jobs reached 65,214. The government also canceled the licenses of 22,474 teachers, making it impossible for them to continue working as teachers in other institutions.

In total, 96,719 teachers and academics were purged from Turkey’s public and private educational institutions. This number does not include the support staff that was hired to run schools and universities in administrative and other capacities.

Most of the shuttered institutions were transformed into religious schools that are designed to raise a new generation of Islamist supporters for Erdoğan’s AKP.

When all the closed institutions are taken into account, the total loss in value including fixed property and land is around $100 billion, one source estimates. The crackdown included foreign students who came to Turkey for study or Turkish students who were sent abroad on government scholarships.

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