Monday 22 January 2018

Turkey bans all academics from leaving the country

US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen
US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen

Josie Ensor

Turkey has banned all academics from travelling overseas after cancelling their annual leave, as President Tayyip Erdogan's post-coup crackdown escalated to "exceptional proportions".

Teachers were told yesterday they could not travel abroad on any work-related trips, and those overseas were ordered to return.

One British lecturer at a state-run university in Istanbul said that foreign nationals had also been told to come back to work. "It's summer break and we've all been summoned back to work as all annual leave has been cancelled," said the teacher, who did not wish to give her name.

The lecturer, who is currently abroad, said both local and international staff received a letter from the university saying they must report for work at 8.30am today.

"I've heard from the secretary that we have to stay in Istanbul and aren't allowed to leave - no idea how that would be enforced but as our work permit cards have ID numbers and workplaces written on them, it's possible. I don't know about other teachers, but I am very concerned."

She has contacted the British embassy in the country to check whether the move is legal.

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 [the] military," he said.

The licences of 21,000 staff working in private schools have been revoked, more than 20,000 employees at the education ministry fired, and the state-run higher education council has demanded the resignation of 1,577 university deans.

The Turkish education ministry last night announced the closure of more than 600 state schools.

The higher education council has asked university rectors to "urgently examine the situation of all academic and administrative personnel" linked to what it calls the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (Feto) and report back by August 5.

The government has accused a US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding the attempted coup, in which more than 230 people were killed. He denies the accusation.

Irish Independent

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