EU describes massive purge of Turkish academics as ‘worrying’

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The EU Commission has reacted to the dismissal of more than 300 academics from Turkish universities by a government decree issued last week, describing the move as being “worrying.”

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

Critics argue that measures taken by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have well surpassed the steps taken during the last coup d’etat of 1980.

In a cautious statement on Monday, the EU said it was concerned about the latest dismissal of the academics.

An EU spokesperson said: “It is worrying that under the State of Emergency, measures taken by the Turkish authorities affect academia. The EU has repeatedly stressed that Turkey, as a candidate country, needs to aspire to the highest possible democratic standards and practices. Any country negotiating its EU accession needs to guarantee human rights, including freedom of expression, in line with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).”

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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