UCU calls on Turkey to respect academic freedom as government announces travel ban

The post-coup crackdown has now extended to academic staff


The University and College Union (UCU) has denounced violations of academic freedom in Turkey, following mass sackings, forced resignations and the announcement of a ban on academics travelling abroad.

‘UCU is seriously alarmed at reports that over 15,000 teachers and education workers have been suspended by the Turkish government,’ commented general secretary Sally Hunt. ‘We are also very concerned at reports that the Turkish Council of Higher Education has demanded the resignation of over 1,500 university deans.’

“While we reject the attempted coup, the Turkish government has to recognise and demonstrate that democracy is the only answer. The number of arrests raises serious questions about respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“These latest actions come on top of a serious assault on academic freedom within Turkish universities and hundreds of academics already under some form of criminal or disciplinary investigation.”

The crackdown on academics comes amid a purge of state employees, teachers and the media, with over 50,000 people rounded up, sacked or suspended since the attempted coup last Friday.

Amnesty International has expressed fears the freedom of expression is under severe threat in Turkey.

Researcher Andrew Gardner commented:

“We are witnessing a crackdown of exceptional proportions in Turkey at the moment. While it is understandable, and legitimate, that the government wishes to investigate and punish those responsible for this bloody coup attempt, they must abide by the rule of law and respect freedom of expression.”

Academics abroad have been ordered to return to Turkey and attend work tomorrow morning. The UCU has written to the Turkish Embassy to express its concern.

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