Since the attempted coup in Turkey last summer and the introduction of the state of emergency, which has been in force since July 2016, the government has launched a massive witch hunt to ''rid the country” of so-called “terrorists and traitors".
Hundreds of thousands of people have been sacked, including members of Eğitim-Sen, an Education International (EI) affiliate in Turkey. "Over 1500 teachers and academics, members of our union, have been dismissed,"explains Özgür Bozdoğan, the union’s new Secretary for Higher Education. "This situation is unacceptable, there is no concrete reason which justifies these dismissals. Our union, Eğitim-Sen, deplores and rejects these decisions."
The union has also raised concerns about two of its imprisoned members, Nuriye Gülmen and SemihÖzakça, who began a hunger strike 123 days ago and are now in a critical condition. In February, Mehmet Fatih Tıraş, another union member and academic, died by suicide.To alleviate the social and financial crisis facing affected members, the union, through a solidarity fund set up by EI and its member organisations, supports its members as much as possible. "The solid support that we have received from our friends at EI and its member organisations allows us to continue to help our friends on a financial level, but it also gives them the chance to get access to lawyers to examine potential legal remedies," says Bozdoğan.