20 Jul 2016

Turkey coup: Teachers targeted in purge

7:06 am on 20 July 2016

More than 15,000 education staff in Turkey have been suspended after last week's failed coup, as a purge of state officials widens still further.

A street seller pushes his cart with fruits and vegetables next to a religious school in the Kasimpasa neighborhood in Istanbul where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was born.

A religious school in the Kasimpasa neighborhood of Istanbul where Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was born. Thousands of education staff have been suspended after the coup attempt. Photo: AFP

The ministry of education accused them of links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric the Turkish government says was behind Friday's uprising. Mr Gulen denies any involvement.

More than 1500 university deans have also been ordered to resign and the licences of 21,000 teachers working at private institutions revoked.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Binali Yildirim pledged action against supporters of Fethullah Gulen. Photo: AFP

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim vowed to take action against Mr Gulen's supporters.

"This parallel terrorist organisation will no longer be an effective pawn for any country," he said, referring to what the government has long alleged is a state within a state controlled by Mr Gulen's followers.

"We will dig them up by their roots," he told parliament.

Fethullah Gulen, 75, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania but has a network of supporters within Turkey, has condemned the coup attempt and denied any role in it.

A former ally-turned critic of President Tayyip Erdogan, he suggested the president staged it as an excuse for a crackdown after a steady accumulation of control during 14 years in power.

Since the coup attempt around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained.

The army, judiciary, security and civil service have all been targeted following Friday's coup attempt, with 6000 military personnel arrested, more than two dozen generals awaiting trial, 9000 police officers sacked and almost 3000 judges suspended.

A demonstration in support of Turkey's President Erdogan at Sarachane park in Istanbul on July 19, 2016.

Women at a demonstration in support of Turkey's President Erdogan in Istanbul. Photo: AFP

Radio and TV channels deemed to be supportive of the cleric were shut down on Tuesday.

Authorities said 492 people had been fired from the Religious Affairs Directorate, 257 from the prime minister's office and 100 intelligence officials.

Some Western leaders expressed concern that Mr Erdogan, who said he was almost killed or captured by the mutineers, was using the opportunity to consolidate power and further a process of stifling dissent.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein voiced "serious alarm" at the mass suspension of judges and prosecutors and urged Turkey to allow independent monitors to visit those who have been detained.

Meanwhile it has emerged that the army first received intelligence a coup was under way at 4pm local time on Friday, hours before a rogue faction deployed tanks and targeted key infrastructure.

The General Staff said in a statement it alerted the relevant authorities, adding that the majority of memberx s had nothing to do with the coup.

- BBC / Reuters