Çetin Koçyiğit, a Turkish academic from Kafkas University, has been given a prison sentence of two years and five months for “insulting” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to a tweet posted by the academic himself, Koçyiğit was also fired from the university upon the court ruling.
Since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, more than 5,700 academics at 117 universities were dismissed from their jobs with government decrees issued under a state of emergency.
Turkey’s Council of Higher Education (YÖK) said the universities were responsible for the dismissal of the academics.
A total of nine government decrees issued between September 2016 and August 2017 dismissed thousands of academics and closed more than a hundred universities.
Approximately 380 academics were dismissed for signing a peace declaration accusing Turkish government of carrying out heavy-handed operations in Turkey’s southeastern region, while 2,808 academics working at 15 Gülen-affiliated universities were dismissed as the universities were closed.
The number of students at those universities was 64,533.
According to a BBC Turkish report in July, 23,427 academics have been affected by the state of emergency that was declared following the failed coup attempt in 2016.
Yargılanmakta olduğum C.B’na hakaret davasından 2,5 yıllık cezam kesinleşti ve bu gün itibariyle Kafkas Üniversitesindeki görevimden uzaklaştırıldım. Hukuksuz cezalarınız karşısında diz çökmeyeceğiz, boyun eğmeyeceğiz.
EMEKÇİYİZ HAKILIYIZ KAZANACAĞIZ. pic.twitter.com/6o9SB1XTit
— Çetin Koçyiğit (@cetinkocyigit1) March 8, 2019
The report said at least 23,427 academics either lost their jobs at universities when their contracts were terminated or were dismissed from their positions, or the universities where they worked were closed down by the government after Sept. 1, 2016.
Critics say the collective dismissal of academics and collective verdicts without specifying individual crimes violates the principle of “the individuality of crime and punishment in law.”
Emergency rule was declared for three months on July 21, 2016 and became effective with a government decree issued on July 23, 2016. With the first decree, No. 667, 15 universities were closed down on the grounds that they were linked to the Gülen group, accused by the Turkish government of leading the failed coup, a claim the movement denies.
There is no information about the number of administrative staff members working at these universities who were affected, but 2,808 academics were left unemployed and 65,000 students had to seek new universities according to figures from Turkey’s Council of Higher Education (YÖK).
Another state decree in September targeted 15,000 research assistants for their alleged links to the Gülen movement. They were part of an Assistant Professor Training Program (ÖYP) that was launched in 2010 to meet the need for academics in Turkey.