TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Dogan news agency said Monday that arrest warrants had been issued for a total of 107 teachers on suspicions of ties to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric based in the US who is blamed for the failed coup of July 15, 2016. It added that 51 of the teachers were detained in Ankara after the warrants were issued.
Gulen runs an extensive network of international education and religious programs with branches in Turkey and several other countries. The cleric, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has denied any involvement in the coup that left more than 250 people dead. He has said on several occasions that the post-coup crackdown, in which more than 50,000 people have been jailed and around 150,000 others dismissed from their jobs, was an attempt to consolidate Erdogan’s grip on power.
The teachers arrested on Monday had previously been suspended from their jobs.
Thousands of other teachers and education staff, including senior academic figures, have been affected by the crackdown.
Rights groups and European governments have repeatedly criticized Ankara for the continued crackdown, saying it has mainly targeted dissent. They also censure a simultaneous push by Turkey against the country’s Kurdish population.
Erdogan’s government maintains that Gulen’s network has deeply infiltrated Turkey’s judiciary, army, schools and other institutions, saying the purges are the only way to neutralize what he calls the threat posed by coup plotters.
Ankara also dismisses allegations of unjust treatment of the Kurds, saying many of those arrested have had links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and have helped militants carry out attacks against civilians and security forces across the country over the past years.