Turkish gov’t detain 10 academics, 12 women over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for 19 academicians and university staff in a Diyarbakır-based investigation as part of its post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement on Wedenesday.

Turkish police have detained 10 people in Diyarbakır, Adıyaman, Bursa, Elazığ, Erzurum, Gaziantep, İstanbul, Ankara, Kahramanmaraş and Malatya provinces following the detention warrants issued by Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor Office for 19 academicians and former personnel of now-closed Selahaddin Eyyübi Üniversity which was affiliated with the Gülen movement.

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.

Meanwhile, 12 women were detained on Wednesday in Kırklareli, Balıkesir, İstanbul, Bolu and Şanlıurfa provinces in a Kırklareli-based investigation over alleged links to the Gülen movement and their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Also, on Wednesday, 15 businessmen and shopkeepers were detained in Adana and Osmaniye provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detentions came following the warrants issued by Ceyhan Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 25 businessmen and shopkeepers.

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 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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.

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