In Turkey / Türkiye

RT.com, July 20, 2016

The Turkish higher board of education has prohibited all academics from traveling abroad, according to local broadcaster TRT.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Adem Altan, AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Adem Altan, AFP)

The ban is a temporary measure to prevent alleged coup plotters in universities from escaping, according to a Turkish government official, cited by Reuters. Some people at the universities were communicating with military cells, the official claimed.

Four university rectors have also been suspended as part of the crackdown, according to broadcaster NTV.

The travel ban comes shortly after the government ordered the resignation of all university deans – namely, 1,577 people. Also, the authorities canceled the licenses of 21,000 private-school teachers, bringing the total number of dismissed professionals to almost 60,000, according to Bloomberg estimates.

Academics around the world have expressed their outrage at the situation. Fiona de Londras, professor of Global Legal Studies at the University of Birmingham, has launched an online petition to support academic freedom in Turkey. [See interview below with Fiona de Londras.]

The hacktivist group ‘Anonymous ‘ has also condemned the crackdown on education and media, urging to pay attention to the upcoming publications on the WikiLeaks whistleblowing website. On Wednesday, access to WikiLeaks was blocked in Turkey after a cache of some 300,000 government emails went online. [Report below.]

The purge comes as the government suspects the academics suspected of links with the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denies claims that he was behind the recent attempted coup.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the preacher led a “terrorist organization,” and pledged in a speech to parliament to “dig them up by their roots.”

For his part, Gulen has hinted that Erdogan may have staged it himself; the Turkish president called the claim “nonsensical.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Turkey would need to provide “evidence, not allegations” against the cleric in order to have him extradited to Turkey. Gulen has lived in Pennsylvania since 2013.

More coverage on RT.com:
Live updates: #TurkeyPurge: Post-coup crackdown

‘Clear attack on academic freedom’ : Interview with professor behind Turkish crackdown petition, July 20, 2016

Turkey blocks access to WikiLeaks after release of 300k govt emails over post-coup purges, July 20, 2016

‘Democracy, freedom and the rule of law’ have no value, Erdogan says, March 18, 2016

Related reading:
Welcome to the Turkish Winter: The Great Purge is Just Beginning, by Burak Kadercan, War On The Rocks, July 18, 2016

Everything you need to know about the Turkey coup, by Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, July 20, 2016

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