After Arresting, Suspending, Or Firing 15,000, Turkey Bans Travel For All Academics

A police officer fires his gun in the air as his colleagues try to stop people who are attacking a judge, believed to be member of a coup plotter group, in Erzurum, Turkey, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. CREDIT: ONUR SAGGOZ/DEPO PHOTOS VIA AP
A police officer fires his gun in the air as his colleagues try to stop people who are attacking a judge, believed to be member of a coup plotter group, in Erzurum, Turkey, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. CREDIT: ONUR SAGGOZ/DEPO PHOTOS VIA AP

The failed coup in Turkey that transpired last weekend was bound to result in a crackdown of opposition figures, as over 50,000 people have been arrested, suspended, or fired from their jobs.

Among that group are 15,000 academics, including all the deans of state and private universities. On Wednesday, the government also announced a nation-wide travel ban for all academics.

A senior Turkish official told the Washington Post that the travel ban is a “temporary measure.”

“As you surely know, universities have always been crucial for military juntas in Turkey, and certain individuals are believed to be in contact with cells within military,” he added.

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Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed the coup was orchestrated by exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen, but Gulen denied Erdogan’s allegations. Gulen is an influential figure in Turkey — mostly through his establishment of many private schools — and was formerly allies with Erdogan before a falling out led to a crackdown against Gulenists in influential positions.

The impending result has seen Erdogan use Gulen as the perfect strawman so that he can crackdown on any opponents — regardless of the actual extent of Gulen’s involvement.

Turkey’s Erdogan Expands Post-Coup Crackdown To Target Judges, Key Military LeaderWorld CREDIT: AP Photo/Emrah Gurel Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is further enforcing his reputation as a…thinkprogress.org“The AKP is using this opportunity to eliminate all opponents and expand their educational foothold to do some long-term social engineering,” Max Hoffman, the Associate Director for the National Security and International Policy team at the Center for American Progress, told ThinkProgress. “Many appear to have no connection to the coup attempt. It’s sheer panic from the government mixed with a sense of opportunity to establish full societal control. The situation is very bad for those concerned with long-term stability, democracy, and the rule of law.”

The crackdown on academics is very likely an attempt to silence dissent from academia. In January, 14 Turkish scholars were arrested after being “accused of terrorist propaganda over a declaration that criticized military action in the largely Kurdish southeast and urged an end to curfews,” the Business Insider reported.

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One academic based in Istanbul told ThinkProgress that the number of people arrested was “unbelievable,” but he believed that many of the suspended academics were likely to be reinstated.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks released around 300,000 emails from the AKP. Turkey blocked access to the documents after the whistleblowing website said it had released the emails in response to the AKP post-coup crackdown. The release of the emails, however, has so far done nothing to deter further draconian measures from Erodgan.