Erdogan widens crackdown on academia and media

President Erdogan directs wrath at supporters of exiled rival Fethullah Gulen, forcing thousands of academics from their posts.

Shai Landesman,

President Erdogan reasserts authority in Turkey
President Erdogan reasserts authority in Turkey
Flash90

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's purge of suspected dissidents from Turkish society continues apace, and has now been expanded to include teachers, university deans, civil servants and media.

Erdogan's government have blamed supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for organizing the failed coup last Friday night. Gulen is in self-imposed exile, and leads a movement that has opposed Erdogan's policies in the past.

Gulen has denied any connection with the uprising, even saying he would cooperate if extradited back to Turkey.

Erdogan and his men, however, say that Gulen heads a "terrorist organization", as Prime Minister Binali Yildrim told parliament. "We will dig them up by their roots," he vowed.

Turkey has been pressing the US to extradite Mr. Gulen as quickly as possible, with the issue reportedly being the subject of a phone conversation between Erdogan and President Barack Obama on Tuesday. The US government is holding off, due to concerns about due process.

Gulen, for his part, is not eager to return to his homeland under these circumstances, "I urge the US government to reject any effort to abuse the extradition process to carry out political vendettas," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Turkish authorities are waiting for the extradition issue to be resolved before cracking down on alleged supporters of the uprising and Mr. Gulen.

Thousands of police officers have already been dismissed, and now local media have announced the following figures detaining the amounts of people forced out of their posts by the government:

  • 15,200 teachers and other education staff
  • 1,577 university deans
  • 8,777 interior ministry workers
  • 1,500 staff in the finance ministry
  • 257 people working in the prime minister's office

In addition, Erdogan's media regulation body, which had been roundly criticized for trampling the freedom of the press long before this uprising, revoked the licences of 24 radio and TV channels accused of links to Mr Gulen.

All these developments represent an escalation of a process of power-consolidation in which Erdogan had already been engaged for years, rather than an entirely new policy shift. The way in which the coup has seemingly "played right into Erdogan's hands", has caused some experts to speculate that the Islamist-leaning President had staged the coup.

According to official figures, Friday night's uprising resulted in 232 deaths and 1,541 people wounded.




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