[VIDEO] Police use force against academics protesting purges at universities

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Turkish police on Friday used pressurized water and pepper spray to disperse a group of people including academics who gathered in front of Ankara University to protest a purge of academics by a recent government decree.

A total of 330 academics were purged from universities by a government decree issued on Tuesday night.

Police intervened when the crowd wanted to enter the Cebeci campus of Ankara University’s political science faculty, where 72 academics were removed from their posts by the Tuesday’s government decree.

The protestors gathered upon a call from the Ankara branch of the Eğitim-Sen teachers’ union with the slogan, “No, we are not going.”

Among the group was the former dean of the political science faculty, Yalçın Karatepe, but he was not allowed to enter the campus, either.

Police detained five people including Hakan Yüksel, one of the purged academics from the university.

Another academic who had been dismissed, Cenk Yiğiter, told the Evrensel daily that he was physically attacked by the riot police and that the university’s security guards took no action to stop the attack on him.

It is estimated that more than 20,000 academics have been purged from universities since a failed coup attempt on July 15. They were either expelled from universities, or the universities they used to work for were closed down due to their ties to the faith-based Gülen movement.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. The movement denies the accusations.

Over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of Feb. 1, 89,775 people were being held without charge, with an additional 43,885 in pre-trial detention due to their alleged links to the movement.

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