Georgia’s Ministry of Education has revoked the teaching license of the Demirel College, a private school founded in Tbilisi by the followers of the Gulen movement, in a move that came three months after the jailing of its principal at Turkey’s request.
The National Center for Education Quality Enhancement (NCEQE), an agency at the Ministry of Education decided not to renew the school’s “authorization,” on Aug 29. While the ministry grounded its decision on some problems with teacher and student registration as well as the school infrastructure and equipment, its timing was found suspicious by many as the school’s principal has been under arrest for some 3 months at Turkey’s request.
Turkish government holds the movement responsible for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt while the latter denies involvement. More than 126,000 people have been detained over ties to the movement in Turkey so far while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier called on foreign governments to punish Gulen followers in their own countries.
Demirel College’s principal Mustafa Emre Cabuk was detained by police on May 24 after a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to Georgia. Cabuk is accused of ‘supporting a terrorist organization’ and proceedings to extradite him to Turkey were initiated, according to local sources. After several rights groups including Amnestry International’s Georgia branch and Transparency International urged authorities not to extradite him, Georgia temporarily halted the extradition process. A local, online news portal said extradition process resumed in July.
Georgia earlier revoked another Gulen-linked school’s license in Batumi. Georgian officials also detained Turkish businessman Sinan Saraç for what media said supporting the Gulen movement.
A Turkish pro-government media outlet said that Turkey had sent a group of 15 people to Georgia, tasked to spy on Gulen followers over there, which has “chased Sarac in a movie-like operation” and reported the collected information to the Georgian police which later detained him.