Turkey Closes Over 600 Schools, Fires Thousands of Teachers in Wake of Failed Coup
All eyes were on Turkey last week as an attempted coup spread violence and disruption throughout the country. Ultimately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s forces triumphed and the military-led coup was crushed, but the political aftermath is nowhere near finished.
During the uprising, people took to social media to share terrifying moments in real time; and Turkey’s most-watched news channel, CNN Türk, has been praised for its role in providing accurate information. Borzou Daragahi of BuzzFeed News writes:
All throughout the night on Friday and early Saturday, the channel broadcast live on television and streamed online in real time. For nearly an hour, CNN Türk broadcast a live scene of an empty anchor’s chair with the sounds of people screaming and fighting in the background. That was when CNN International, France 24, the BBC, and even Iran’s Press TV began tapping into the live feed, broadcasting the surreal events to a world struggling to understand what was going on.
Later in the evening, CNN Türk captured a “turning point” of the night’s events as Ankara news anchor Hande Firat spoke to CNN Türk via FaceTime on an iPhone. “An official in government praised the actions of CNN Türk and the choices made by Turkish news channels, including those considered critical of Erdogan,” Daragahi writes. Even as army officers flooded CNN Türk’s offices, the live stream continued. “The entire experience taught the CNN Türk the importance of keeping the cameras rolling no matter what.”
But although Erdogan’s government may have praised such transparency at the height of the coup attempt, freedom of expression is now facing consequences. Roughly 20,000 government employees have been detained, and Erdogan has blamed the revolt on his political rival, Fethullah Gülen. Gülen lives in self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania, and Erdogan has urged the United States to arrest or extradite him. Gülen has denied any involvement in planning a coup.
Reports are surfacing about the extreme steps Erdogan is taking to shut down opposition. Voice of America reports:
Turkish state media reported authorities are acting to close down 626 private schools and other educational establishments, in the latest step of a crackdown after last week’s attempted coup.
The schools are linked to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who set up a network of schools across Turkey to promote his teachings.
Also Wednesday, Turkey’s higher education council announced a ban on academics traveling abroad and urged all of those currently abroad to return home quickly.
In addition, Turkey has banned academics from leaving the country and urged those traveling abroad to return home.
Also, Voice of America reports, 15,200 teachers have been fired in the days since the uprising, and Turkey’s “higher education board demanded the resignations of 1,577 university deans.”
President Obama has spoken with Erdogan in recent days but has not said whether the U.S. will arrest or extradite Gülen.
Turkey, meanwhile, continues to detain thousands of government and civil service employees, and Erdogan has hinted that he is willing to reinstate the death penalty in the country—a move opposed by the United Nations.
—Posted by Emma NilesWait, before you go…
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