Turkish government’s persecution of critical academics goes on full gear

Turkish government’s persecution of critical academics has been continuing in Turkey as part of post-coup with hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

A Turkish court on Thursday handed down a sentence of 6 years, 10 months and 15 days for Halil Aykul, the former dean of Çorum Hitit University’s engineering faculty, over alleged links to the movement. The Çorum 2nd High Criminal Court rendered its verdict during a trial hearing on Thursday following an investigation into Gülen movement members in Çorum.

Speaking during the hearing, Aykul denied the charges and said he was being slandered as he has no links to any terrorist groups.

Along with several other academics Aykul was dismissed from his job in September 2016.

Meanwhile, Mehmet Ünlü, a medical professor and the chief physician at the Kocatepe University hospital in Afyonkarahisar until he was dismissed over his alleged links to the Gülen movement, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

According to Kronos online news portal on Thursday, Ünlü rejected allegations raised against him however, was given 12 years of jail sentence on charges of membership to a terrorist organization.

The accusations against the professor include his attendance in religious conversation gatherings organized by the institutions affiliated with the movement, intervening in personnel procurement process at the university and having deposited money into the now-defunct private lender Bank Asya.

Professor Ünlü said the allegations are groundless while the court in charge handed over 4 years and 2 months of jail sentence to his wife Arzu Ünlü as well.

 

A total of 23 academics and public servants have been fired from their jobs at Turkey’s Giresun University over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. According to the university’s dean, Cevdet Coşkun, after the coup attempt, the university management formed a committee tasked with “determning those who have links to the Gülen movement.”

“Since the attempt, 23 have been dismissed. And we are still working on another 30 names,” the dean said, according to a report by online news outlet Kronos.

Since the failed attempt in July 2016, a total of 5,717 academics at 117 universities were dismissed from their jobs due to government decrees issued under a state of emergency. Turkey’s Council of Higher Education (YÖK) said the universities were responsible for the dismissal of the academics.

According to a BBC Turkish report in July, 23,427 academics have been negatively affected by the state of emergency that was declared following the failed coup attempt in 2016.

The report said at least 23,427 academics either lost their jobs at universities when their contracts were terminated or were dismissed from their positions, or the universities where they worked were closed down by the government after Sept. 1, 2016.

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

Emergency rule was 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 private and foundation universities were closed down on the grounds that they were linked to the Gülen movement.

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 Turkey’s Council of Higher Education (YÖK).

Another state decree in September targeted 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.

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 Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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 more than 150,000 people including, academics, judges, teachers, police and civil servants etc., nearly 128,000 people have been detained and more than 60,000 people arrested over alleged links to the Gülen movement since a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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