Turkey suspends 15,200 education officials, State of Emergency declared

In the aftermath of the failed coup of July 15, the Turkish government has suspended 15,200 members of its Ministry of Education. Turkey’s higher education council has also invited all of the country’s 1,577 university deans to resign.

Ankara’s ministry of education confirmed the sackings on its Twitter account on Tuesday. Most are expected to be teachers suspended in connection with the failed coup.

Turkey is carrying out a mass purge of government officials with about 35,000 public servants affected by the end of the day. Earlier the government sacked 257 officials at the Prime Minister’s office and 492 clerics at the directorate for religious affairs.

8,800 policemen were fired, 6,000 soldiers were arrested, 2,700 judges and prosecutors, dozens of governors, and more than 100 generals were also sacked, on suspicion of involvement in the coup or connections with those who organised it.

Turkey’s energy market regulator EPDK suspended 25 officials including a ‘group head’ and several ‘experts’ on suspicion of links to the group alleged to be behind last Friday’s failed military coup, Turkey’s state news agency Anatolia reported on Tuesday. The EPDK is also looking at energy companies suspected of links to the same group.

Some 20 news websites critical of the government have also been blocked.

A government spokesman said that the crackdown on suspected rebels being carried out by the Turkish government is a legitimate security operation to safeguard the country in the aftermath of the failed coup.

The military coup was well planned and very nearly succeeded in toppling the elected president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the early hours of Saturday morning. More than 300 people died during the attempt.

The government claims those arrested or fired had links to Fethullah Gülen, the US-based Islamic cleric who Turkey believes organised the coup. Some of the arrested generals had already admitted their connection to Gülen’s dissident movement during interrogations this week.

On Tuesday, the government announced it had prepared a dossier to send to the US in expectation of Gülen’s extradition. Gulen lives in exile in Pennsylvania.

“On grounds of suspicion he can easily be extradited,” said Kalin. “If they insist on keeping him then a lot of people here will think he is assisted by the US.”

Meanwhile, human right groups are appalled at the brutal clampdown by the Turkish Government. Human Rights Watch said: “While the government has the complete right to hold to account those involved in the coup, the speed and scale of the arrests, including of top judges, suggests a purge rather than a process based on any evidence. Turkey’s citizens who took to the streets to defend democracy deserve a response that upholds the rule of law and protects media freedom.”

Amnesty International said, “The sheer number of arrests and suspensions since Friday is alarming and we are monitoring the situation very closely. The coup attempt unleashed appalling violence and those responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses must be brought to justice, but cracking down on dissent and threatening to bring back the death penalty are not justice.”

In response, Erdoğan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said all those arrested had been detained according to laws “enshrined in our constitution and our penal law. There’s nothing exceptional or surprising that several thousand people would be arrested.”

Turkey has received many international calls after it’s massive purging operation, to respect the rule of law. In response Kalin said, “We are the ones who got on the streets and shed our blood for democracy and the rule of law.”

Turkey is likely to take on more stringent measures. Today, as the country’s national security council met for the first time since the coup attempt, the State of Emergency for next three months has been declared. As there are fears that Turkey could declare a state of emergency that might make it easier for Erdoğan to go after his opponents, the decision has been taken.

However, thousands of supporters turned out in in pro-Erdoğan rallies since the weekend. They back the actions of the president whom they idolise for boosting Turkey’s economy and representing the country’s lower classes.

“This country has never seen this kind of president or prime minister,” one supporter, standing outside Istanbul’s city hall, argued, before listing Erdoğan’s perceived achievements since reaching power in 2003. “No other president or prime minister achieved what he has done – in economic terms, in charitable terms, and in patriotic terms. There’s such a difference, a world of difference, in our lifestyle. Healthcare has especially improved. We have opportunities, and we have options,” the person added.

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