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Dismissal of Turkey academics creating 'climate of fear': HRW

May 14, 2018 12:05 PM
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Dismissal of Turkey academics creating 'climate of fear': HRW

ISTANBUL: Human Rights Watch on Monday said the dismissal of thousands of academics by the Turkish government after the 2016 failed coup was undermining academic freedoms and creating a 'climate of fear' on campus.

"The Turkish government's crackdown is targeting academics and damaging its universities," said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"Academics and students should be free to express, teach, and research controversial and critical ideas without risking dismissal or imprisonment," he said.

Academics have been among tens of thousands of people either sacked, suspended or taken into custody in Turkey after the July 15, 2016 failed coup.

Hundreds of academics are also being prosecuted for signing a petition in January 2016 criticising a military crackdown in the Kurdish-dominated southeast.

After Turkey's recent operation to root out Kurdish militia from their former stronghold of Afrin, several students from Istanbul's prestigious Bogazici University were detained by police for unfurling anti-war banners.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in March slammed those anti-war students as 'terrorists'.

"The authorities are interfering with student protests on campus and prosecuting student activists. And officials are interfering with academic research on controversial topics," Human Rights Watch said.

"Together these actions are creating a climate of fear and self-censorship on campus, and breaching Turkey's obligations under human rights law to respect and protect academic freedom and freedom of expression," it added.


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