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Education Ministry asks purged teachers to prove ‘innocence’ to return to posts

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Turkey’s Education Ministry has asked teachers who have been removed from their posts through controversial government decrees to prove their “innocence” in order to be able to return to their posts, according to a report in the Cumhuriyet daily on Monday.

The teachers are asked to obtain a document from prosecutor’s offices that confirms they did not download the smart phone application known as ByLock to their mobile phones.

According to Turkish officials, ByLock is the top communication tool among followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Under a recent government decree numbered 686, 4,464 civil servants were removed from their posts, 2,585 of whom were teachers.

The teachers are accused of having links to the Gülen movement on the grounds that they have bank accounts at the now-closed Gülen-linked Bank Asya and use ByLock.

Education unions have reportedly applied to the Education Ministry asking the purged teachers to be returned to their posts.

In response, the ministry asked the teachers to bring a document from prosecutor’s offices showing that they don’t use ByLock and that they have been acquitted of charges in investigations, if any, against them.

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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