Following the failed coup in Turkey President Erdogan banned academics from travelling abroad, revoked 21’000 teacher’s licenses, and almost 1600 deans have been ordered to resign. Erdogan’s justification for this is that US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen caused or at the very least influenced those involved in the coup. Erdogan has offered no evidence for Gulen’s involvement.
People in the judiciary, government, military, and police have lost their jobs as well for having even the most tenuous link to Gulen or holding non-pro Erdogan sentiment. Over 50’000 people have lost their jobs for lacking pro-Erdogan sentiment. This disregard for free speech and thought, which is enshrined in the Turkish Constitution, should be responded to with outrage but as of yet world leaders warned Erdogan not to use the failed coup has a reason to crackdown but that was clearly ignored. In further attempts to legitimise his actions Erdogan initiated a 3 month state of emergency, which suspends certain aspects of the constitution with regard to freedom of expression, thought, and opinion.
Erdogan is not unfamiliar with punishing dissenting opinion after arresting 27 professors in January 2016 for signing a petition calling for the end to massacre of Kurds calling it ‘terror propaganda’. Erdogan called for the judiciary to punish this treachery harshly. Four philosophy students were arrested soon after for tweeting in support of the release of their professor who had been arrested. These students are still in prison awaiting trial on charges of ‘being a part of a terrorist organisation’.
This disregard for the constitution of Turkey by those who are supposed to protect it should be met with outrage and while it is difficult for nations to influence each other in this regard their are still ways to support, at least, the academics currently under threat. There is a petition that you can sign to support the letters signed by academics everywhere in condemnation of Erdogan’s actions. Scholars at Risk Network is encouraging universities to offer visiting lecturer positions to Turkish academics in an attempt to save them. Though with Erdogan’s banning of travelling abroad this could run into issues. SAR have plenty of other ways people and institutions can offer support to Turkish academics.