Turkey working on bill allowing dismissal of academics for ‘terrorist propaganda’

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A protester holds a placard reading "Academy will not bow to government", on December 5, 2017 in front of Istanbul's courthouse, during a demonstration in support of a group of academics charged with terror offences for signing a petition almost two years ago calling for peace in the Kurdish-dominated southeast. - Over 1,120 Turkish and also foreign academics initially signed the petition which denounced the actions of Turkey's military in the southeast where deadly clashes had erupted with outlawed Kurdish militants in 2015. The first 10 academics charged -- from Istanbul University and Galatasaray University -- went on trial on December 5, 2017. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)

The National Education Committee in the Turkish parliament has approved a bill that provides for the dismissal of academic personnel at universities for “disseminating terrorist propaganda,” the T24 news website reported on Monday.

According to the bill, which will amend the law on the country’s Higher Education Board (YÖK), disciplinary boards to be chaired by university vice rectors will be able to expel academics whom they find to have committed designated acts.

“Disseminating propaganda on behalf of terrorist organizations, being aligned with such organizations in practice or aiding them, using public resources in support of such organizations” were listed in the bill as grounds for dismissal.

The bill was approved by the committee despite objections raised by several opposition deputies who found the term “propaganda” to be too vague. It is expected to be debated by the general assembly as the last step of the legislative process.

The Turkish government carried out a massive purge of scholars in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016, summarily dismissing more than 6,000 academics through successive emergency decrees.

The purge included hundreds of academics who signed a peace declaration in January 2016 that called for an end to state violence against the country’s Kurds.

Turkey’s anti-terror laws are frequently criticized by rights groups and international observers for being too vague and allowing prosecution of individuals based on non-violent acts.

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