Turkish police officer parent shoots principal, teacher at elementary school in Bursa

A parent who is also a police officer shot a school principal and teacher on the morning of April 11 in the northwestern province of Bursa, injuring both.

The incident took place at around 9:30 a.m. local time at the Kadir Çavuşoğlu Elementary School. The principal and teacher were transported to the hospital by ambulance, while the gunman was taken to the police station by his colleagues.

Meanwhile, the rector of Osmangazi University in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir resigned on Wednesday after a shooting on April 5 in which four university personnel were killed. Rector Hasan Gönen told reporters at a press briefing to announce his departure that he had resigned for the security of the investigation into the shooting.

“By acquiring knowledge, I have worked with my colleagues to increase the honor of the Turkish nation since 2011. I thank my family at Eskişehir Osmangazi University. After these statements, I am resigning to ensure the survival of the state and the integrity of the investigation and so as to not exhaust state institutions, primarily my university,” said the rector.

Four people were killed by a research assistant at the university on April 5. Volkan Bayar, 37, killed deputy dean Mikail Yalçın, faculty secretary Fatih Özmutlu, research assistant Yasin Armağan and lecturer Serdar Çağlak form the university’s education faculty.

Colleagues of the university personnel said the shooting had been expected but that no measures had been taken against the attacker. Gönen also said there had been an ongoing investigation into the perpetrator’s verbal attacks on the academic and administrative staff at the university.

The dean of the education faculty, Prof. Dr. Cemil Yücel, said the suspect was mentally unstable and had constantly been accusing staff members of being followers of “FETÖ,” a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement.

Professor Ayşe Aypay, from the same university, said many complaints had been filed against Bayer by the victims, but the authorities took no action to launch an investigation into him. “Who will give an accounting of protecting Volkan Bayer for one-and-a-half years?” asked Aypay.

Aypay accused the university of “protecting” Bayar and not taking any action against him for more than a year.

Eskişehir Governor Özdemir Çakacak said in a statement on April 5 that an extensive investigation had been launched into the incident to ascertain the motive for the attack. Bayar’s wife has also been detained as part of the investigation.

Former deputy dean of the education faculty, Prof. Dr Engin Karadağ, said Bayar constantly lodged complaints claiming his colleagues were linked to “FETÖ.” “When I was the deputy dean, we tried to talk to our rector and warned them that Bayar was threatening people with murder. The Police Department and the Directorate of Intelligence also knew about his situation. We warned them,” Karadağ said.

Assistant Professor Yalçın Bay, a former member of the staff who was dismissed from his job upon a complaint made by Bayar, accused Bayar of being linked to “FETÖ.” “He accused me of being linked to ‘FETÖ.’ I was dismissed from the university. He lodged complaints about 102 academics across Turkey although he himself was himself linked to ‘FETÖ,’” claimed Bay.

Bay had applied to a court over the false accusations by leveled by Bayar, but the prosecutor did not move to prosecute Bayar as he “was performing his civic duty.”

A funeral ceremony was held on the university campus, attended by relatives of the victims and students. People protested the rector for being unresponsive to the situation and demanded his resignation.

Since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a total of 5,717 academics at 117 universities have been dismissed from their jobs due to government decrees issued under the ongoing state of emergency. However, 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 were left unemployed when 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 the Higher Education Board (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 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 has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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