Turkey’s government has sacked 2,346 university staff for suspected ties to July’s attempted military coup in the country.
The sackings, announced in a 1 September decree as part of a wider purge of 40,000 civil servants, are the first of an expected wave of dismissals under powers granted by state-of-emergency rules following the coup. Those fired are unable to appeal, cannot hold any government positions in the future, and will have their passports revoked.
Turkey’s government has blamed the Gülen movement — a religious organization — for the coup attempt. But academics have protested that some of those now being fired are not Gülen followers, but simply opponents of particular government policies. More than 40 of those sacked, for example, had in January signed an ‘Academics for Peace’ petition that had called for an end to violence between government forces and Kurdish separatists.
Hundreds of the signatories of that petition have already faced investigations and several have been suspended, according to a website set up by some of the petition’s supporters. “This latest attempt to purge Academics for Peace by linking them to coup plotters is outrageous and unacceptable,” a statement on the petition’s website said.
“Academics with absolutely no links with the Gülenists, who had even actively opposed Gülenists in the past, are being sacked alongside suspected sect members,” said the Association of University Councils — an academic society that represents young researchers — in a press statement.
The Gülenists had been close allies to the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and had used the connection to place their supporters in key positions in the judiciary, education and science. But in 2013, the alliance broke down and Erdoğan (who has been Turkey’s …