Ankara orders new mass purge
Thousands of teachers and academics fired, alongside journalists from public TV
10 February, 2017The Turkish authorities have ordered the dismissal of nearly 4,500 civil servants in the latest wave of purges after last July's attempted coup, news wires reported, citing a decree published last Tuesday. The Official Gazette said 4,464 people had been fired, including 2,585 employees of the education ministry, 893 members of the gendarmerie and 88 workers at the public television channel TRT. The sackings included 330 academics who were members of the Higher Council for Teaching (YOK). Among them is the leading specialist on constitutional law Ibrahim Kaboglu, who opposed the recently announced changes to the constitution. Others affected by the latest decree have worked at the election commission, the EU ministry and the foreign ministry.The authorities had already arrested more than 41,000 people, and fired or suspended 100,000, after the 15 July attempted coup. Many are teachers, police, magistrates or journalists. On 7 January the government announced the dismissal of nearly 8,400 civil servants and the closure of 80 associations, including sports clubs. The dismissals, authorised by the cabinet, require no parliamentary approval as the country is under the state of emergency, which has twice been extended and is now due to last until 19 April.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames the attempt to overturn him on the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who, he says, is being secretly supported by followers in Turkey.The scale of the crackdown has been fiercely criticised by the EU and human rights organisations. On 2 February, in her first trip to Ankara since a failed military coup in Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "in such a time of profound political upheaval, everything must be done to continue to protect the separation of powers and above all freedom of opinion and the diversity of society." The new dismissals in Turkey came hours after first phone call between the US President Donald Trump and President Erdogan. According to an official statement from Ankara, both leaders agreed to act jointly against Islamic State in Syria. Erdogan had urged the US not to support the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Trump discussed the "close, long-standing relationship" between the US and Turkey, in addition to welcoming the country's "contributions to the counter-ISIS campaign," the White House said in a statement, but it gave no further details.New York Times recalls that during the US presidential campaign, Trump declined to criticise Erdogan for a campaign of mass arrests and dismissals that followed the attempted coup. The NYT also noted that recently the Turkish president has avoided condemning Trump’s ban on travel to the US from seven Muslim countries, despite the fact that Erdogan is leader of a Muslim-majority country.Relations between Ankara and Washington were troubled under the Barack Obama administration, over Turkish demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen and by Turkey's insistence that Washington should stop supporting Syrian Kurdish fighters who are affiliated with outlawed Kurdish rebels in Turkey.