Turkey continues to purge higher education

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.


  1. Hempenstein
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Are any websites (like, um, this one) blocked in Turkey (yet)?

    • Posted July 20, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Facebook has been vacillating on & off, though most use proxy services to get around it.

    • jay
      Posted July 20, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Wikileaks, which has released a large number of emails has been blocked

  2. Posted July 20, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    50,000 and counting. The next group of subversives are now journalists.

  3. Kevin
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Ergoan grabs the mike with his best tux:

    Worst is yet to come, come the day you’re mine

    I’m gonna teach you to fry

    We’ve only just tasted my design

    We’re gonna drain the cup dry

    Wait till your charms are right for these arms to surround

    You think you’ve flown before, but baby, you never leaving the ground

    Wait till you’re locked in my embrace

    Wait till I draw you near
    Wait till you see that darkness place

    Ain’t nothin’ like it here

    The worst is yet to come and babe, won’t it be fine?

  4. Ken
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    From the NPR website ‘Meanwhile, the broadcasting licenses for at least two dozen Turkish radio and TV stations have been canceled for alleged links to Gulen, whose extradition Turkey says it will seek from the United States.”

  5. Posted July 20, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    The one thing worse than a coup is a failed coup.

  6. Tom Czarny
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Time to get the nukes out of Incirlik air base, and fast. The base has been without power since the coup began for no discernible reason.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 20, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      for no discernible reason.

      Except, possibly, to prevent removal of the nukes? (Though a military airbase that can’t handle loss of external power beggars belief.)

    • Posted July 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      This is very concerning.

  7. Posted July 20, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Narrative emerges from coup night, from multiple sources, putting some hefty nails in the conspiracy coffin. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0421j8w

  8. Posted July 20, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    It’s Erdogan’s Reichstag Fire.

    And if Gulen’s supporters really were involved, then this time army vs government isn’t secular vs Islamist but one Islamist faction vs another

    • jay
      Posted July 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      From what I’ve read, Gulen is more akin to secular Christianity, religious but with a more open worldview.

      • Posted July 21, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        That’s my take, too, and it seems to apply not just to Gulen and his followers but to all Sufi Muslims (as opposed to Salafi, Wahabi, Sunni, and Shia).

  9. Joseph Stans
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    He cannot maintain his regime with a reasonably educated populace. For one thing it would be an anathema to a theocracy.

  10. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    How long before women are required to wear the hijab, “for their own safety.”

  11. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    against all his enemies, real or imagined.

    Erdogan has been reading the “Consolidated Machiavellian Manual on Conversion of Imagined Enemies Into Real Enemies”

  12. Mike
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    And so it begins.

  13. Posted July 22, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Yup. Operation hummingbird.


    • Posted July 23, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      I picture Roger Ailes becoming Trump’s right hand henchman and adding his personal favorites to Trump’s own long list, to do the same sort of operation here. These days, it can fly under cover of ISIS with just the right presentation and bits of advertising. And who knows more about how to do that than Roger Ailes? Who (in power in American politics) wants to do that more than both these sorry excuses for men?

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