It really distresses me to see Recep Ergoan use the excuse of a military coup to exact retribution against all his enemies, real or imagined. If the coup was real—and I still think it is—it’s justifiable to fire the military who were involved, but reinstating the death penalty (abolished in 2004), as Erdogan wants to do, is out of line.
On top of that we have the mass arrest of judges, the mass firing of 15,000 officials of the state Ministry of Education and state governors, and the mass suspension of 21,000 teachers. That’s at least 45,000 people. There’s no excuse for that: it’s clear to everyone that Erdogan is using the coup as a convenient excuse to solidify his autocratic grasp on Turkey.
In fact, he’s said as much. The BBC reports this statement;
“We will continue to cleanse the virus from all state institutions, because this virus has spread. Unfortunately like a cancer, this virus has enveloped the state,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told mourners at a funeral in Istanbul for victims of the coup.
“Virus” is of course the word Hitler used to refer to the Jews, and the Final Solution was the elimination of that virus.
Now the purge of academics and intellectuals has worsened, as Turkey just suspended every dean of every college in the country, private or public. That amounts to 1,577 deans, including those at the finest secular institutions in the land. And if that wasn’t enough, the Washington Post reports that there is now a blanket travel ban on every academic in the country.
A senior Turkish official described the travel ban on academics as just 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 said.
Yeah, all 1577 deans are subversives! I don’t think so. As Inside Higher Ed reports, this is a blatant move to get rid of academics and create a system of higher education formed in Erdogan’s image:
A.Kadir Yildirim, a research scholar at the Center for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, described Tuesday’s actions as “part of the effort of the government to basically redesign all the major institutions, all the major agencies, in its own image. Those who are not party loyalists, those who are not Erdoğan loyalists, are basically being dismissed.”
Yildirim asked how the government could have come up so quickly after the failed coup with a list of 9,000 people to dismiss from the police force and more than 1,500 deans. “This is just an opportunity, an excuse for the government to expand its control of various government agencies, especially those historically [which] they have been unable to infiltrate, so to speak,” he said. Historically, he explained, higher education has been a stronghold of liberals and secularists, while conservatives and Islamists have been less well represented in positions of power.
This all smacks of the same kind of tactics Hitler used after the Reichstag fire, which the Nazi party may well have set as an excuse to solidify its power.
What’s happening in Turkey is execrable, and it’s even worse given the thousands of Turkish people demonstrate in the streets in favor of Erdogan. It’s like chickens demonstrating in favor of the fox! While many good people are unjustly detained, I feel especially strongly about my academic colleagues in Turkey, for those are the people I know. Many will be suffering in silence, and, like everyone else in that Erdogan-cursed land, they know that the worst is yet to come. Turkey is about to be cut off from the Western world, and is going on a path that will make it like many other benighted Middle Eastern nation.