ISTANBUL (REUTERS) – Turkish authorities have dismissed more than 10,000 civil servants over their suspected links with US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating the failed coup in July.
Thousands of academics, teachers and health workers were among those removed through a new emergency rule decree published on the Official Gazette late on Saturday (Oct 29) while 15 media outlets, almost all of which reported from the largely Kurdish south-east, were shut down.
Through the decrees, elections to choose a rector at the universities have also been abolished. President Tayyip Erdogan will directly appoint the rectors from the candidates nominated by the High Educational Board (YOK).
Turkey has formally arrested more than 37,000 people and has already sacked or suspended 100,000 civil servants, judges, prosecutors, police and others in an unprecedented crackdown the government says is necessary to root out all supporters of Gulen from the state apparatus and key positions.
A state of emergency imposed right after the bloody failed coup in July has been extended for another three months until January after Erdogan said the authorities needed more time to eradicate the threat posed by Gulen’s network as well as Kurdish militants who have waged a 32-year insurgency.
The total number of media outlets shut down since the start of the state of emergency has now exceeded 160.
The extent of the crackdown has worried rights groups and some Western allies, who fear Erdogan is using it to curtail dissent. The government says the actions are justified by the threat to the state on July 15, when more than 240 people died.
Ankara wants the United States to detain and extradite Gulen so that he can be prosecuted in Turkey on a charge that he masterminded the attempt to overthrow the government. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies any involvement.