News & Politics

Erdogan Shutters Thousands of Schools, Charities, and Unions

(AP Photo)

The crackdown against the opponents of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan picked up speed this weekend as thousands of private schools, charities, and other organizations were ordered shut. The government claims that they are all part of a network of supporters of exiled scholar Fethullah Gulen.

The tally of closures includes:

The first decree signed by Erdogan authorizes the closure of 1,043 private schools, 1,229 charities and foundations, 19 trade unions, 15 universities and 35 medical institutions over suspected links to the Gulen movement, the Anadolu agency said.

Parliament must still approve the decree but requires only a simply majority, which the government has.

The closing of private hospitals with patients in them didn’t faze Erdogan at all. The patients are being transferred to state-run healthcare facilities.

The Turkish government is losing patience with the rest of the world who are skeptical of Erdogan’s motives:

A top Turkish official also accused some European countries of downplaying the grave danger posed by the failed insurrection, an apparent response to Western concerns about possible human rights violations in the government’s crackdown.

“Some European colleagues think this is a Pokemon game, this coup attempt,” said Omer Celik Turkey’s minister for EU affairs. “Come here and see how serious this is. This is not something we play in a virtual game. This is happening in real time in Turkey.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also sharply criticized concerns that the large-scale purges, which have left at least 10,000 people in jail and about 50,000 fired or suspended, could jeopardize basic freedoms. Erdogan told France 24 on Saturday that Turkey has no choice but to impose stringent security measures, after the attempted coup that killed about 290 people and was put down by loyalist forces and protesters.

“We are duty-bound to take these measures. Our Western friends fail to see it that way. I cannot understand why,” Erdogan said. “I’m under the impression that they will only see that once all the political leaders of Turkey are killed, and then they’ll start to dance for joy.”

Does anyone believe that 60,000 people were involved in the coup? If true, Turkey would have the most incompetent internal security apparatus in the world.

Those in jail, or fired, or suspended are guilty of opposing the country’s president, not of trying to overthrow the democratic order. For Erdogan to claim opposition to him is the same as opposing democracy is absurd.

Erdogan will meet with fired members of his military council this week, probably to outline his “reforms.” I wonder if they will include all members of the armed forces taking an oath of allegiance to him personally.