Updated: May 1, 2019
Turkey's Council of Higher Education (YÖK) announced on Friday that a number of academics and administrative staff members at public and private universities have been fired from their positions as part of the government’s investigations into the failed coup.
“Legal actions were launched into a total of 5,267 academic personnel from state and private universities, of whom suspension decisions were given for 4,225. Legal actions were launched into a total of 1,545 administrative personnel from state and private universities, of whom suspension decisions were given for 1,117,” the statement released from YÖK reads.
The statement also says that a state of emergency commission was formed in YÖK.
“By means of this commission, necessary pieces of information have been provided as to the discharges and investigations, and these developments are being closely monitored. It will never be allowed for members of the FETÖ/PDY (Fethullahist Terror Organization/Parallel State Structure) to occupy position in higher education institutions.”
Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned over the plight of the academic community in Turkey. Since the days following the attempted coup, we have received numerous reports that Turkish officials have taken harsh measures against universities and other educational institutions of higher education. Universities are being shut down, and faculty and administrators are being taken into custody and denied the possibility of leaving the country.
The war against academics started long before the attempted coup. On January 10 of this year, a group of scholars named the Academics for Peace signed an open letter asking the Turkish government to end its violence in the Kurdish provinces. The next day, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the signatories of treason and called for their punishment. The Turkish judiciary system initiated public prosecutions under Turkish antiterror laws, alleging defamation of the Turkish state and accusing signatories of spreading “terrorist organization propaganda.” Turkey’s Higher Education Council (YÖK) ordered university rectors to commence disciplinary investigations. Numerous suspensions, dismissals, and imprisonments followed.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide condemns the detention of and professional retaliation against academics and human rights activists in Turkey in response to their exercise of the rights to academic freedom, free expression, and free association, conduct that is expressly protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both to which Turkey is party. The ongoing tensions in Turkey have a profoundly destructive effect on academic freedom and represent a grave threat to higher education on a national scale.
We urge Turkish officials to honor their constitutional obligations to protect the institutional integrity of universities and the freedom of scholars and academics.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide calls on the United Nations General Assembly and member governments to put pressure on the Turkish government and express concern over the actions taken against universities and higher education establishments.
Please join The New School, home of the original University in Exile and Endangered Scholars Worldwide, in calling on Turkish authorities to
cease their attacks on Turkish academics and universities;
free those who have been arrested without cause;
allow those who wish to travel freely outside the country to do so; and
make Turkish universities once again the havens of freedom of inquiry and free expression that all great universities must be.