More than 15,000 education professionals in Turkey have been suspended after a failed coup targeting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a result of a broad, massive purge of state officials. Around 1,500 university deans have been ordered to resign, and the licenses of 21,000 teachers at private institutions have been revoked.
The ministry of education has been suspending those accused of ties to the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who authorities blame for the uprising. Gulen denies involvement.
One student protesting these purges, 22-year-old Orhun Gedik, said that politics and education shouldn't mix, reports the Belfast Telegraph. He said:
"A government should not decide the hiring and firing. This government doesn't want to listen to others."
According to the BBC, the other targets for dismissal have included 6,000 military personnel, including two dozen generals; 9,000 police officer; 3,000 judges; 1,500 employees of the finance ministry; 492 from the Religious Affairs Directorate; and more than 250 staff from Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's office. 9,000 others have been detained.
Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesperson for President Erdogan, blamed a "Gulenist clique within the Turkish army" for the uprising.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said:
"I'm sorry but this parallel terrorist organization will no longer be an effective pawn for any country. We will dig them up by their roots so that no clandestine terrorist organization will have the nerve to betray our blessed people again."
Erdogan survived the coup by only ten or fifteen minutes after coup participants invaded the resort town of Marmaris, where he was on vacation.
The US has received documents on Gulen from Turkey and is reviewing them to see if Turkey has the evidence for a formal extradition request.
The licenses of 24 radio and TV channels have also been revoked, and the Religious Affairs Directorate has banned religious funerals for those who supported the coup.
The July 15th coup claimed the lives of 208 government supporters and 24 who carried out the coup.
The Tuesday after the failed coup, a thousand pro-government supporters gathered in Istanbul for a rally praising the president and his government, reports the Associated Press. They also demanded the death penalty for those responsible for the coup.
One Istanbul municipality worker, Durhan Yilmiz, said:
"We are not leaving these squares. (The) Turkish flag cannot be lowered."
Erdogan has suggested reinstating the death penalty, which was abolished in Turkey in 2004 to improve their chances of joining the European Union. However, several European officials have said that a reinstatement would end Turkey's chances of joining. He said:
"You cannot put aside the people's demands.
In a country where our youths are killed with tanks and bombs, if we stay silent, as political people we will be held responsible in the afterlife."
Arrests have included former air force commander General Akin Ozturk, who has been accused of being the ringleader of the uprising despite his denial of involvement, as well as General Adem Hududi, who commands Turkey's 2nd Army which deals with threats from Syria, Iran, and Iraq.