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In the aftermath of the military coup attempt, the Turkish government is conducting a clean-up of its public sector. In the process, more than 50.000 people have already been suspended, discharged or arrested. Although the operation is carried out by a democratically elected government, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel whishes to express its deep concern about these proceedings. Indeed, these are putting the rule of law and the freedom of expressions under a lot of pressure. Furthermore, the university condemns the forced resignation of more than 1,500 academics, including many university deans and rectors. It also deplores the wave of discharges and suspensions in the Turkish compulsory education, which affects more than 15,000 people. VUB also expresses its indignation at the recall to Turkey of all Turkish academics staying abroad.
A free academic world is crucial for the preservation of democracy. After all, academics are wont to see the world and its phenomena through scientific spectacles. As a result, their conclusions often contrast prevailing opinions. To be able to express these without fear of reprisals, is a prerequisite for the proper functioning of society.
Seeing the Turkish government targetting the academic world with its clean-up, is cause for great concern. The VUB therefore joins in with the condemnation of the Turkish action by European academic organizations such as the European Association of Universities (EUA), the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA), of which VUB is a member.
More than ever a need for freedom of expression in Turkey
In their condemnation, the university associations express their support for the democratically elected government of Turkey, but state that the measures taken go into the wrong direction: ‘More than ever, Turkey is in need of freedom of expression and a public and open debate, as is promoted by the strong university community of the country.’
The VUB has also revised the discussed of its exchange students and decided to no longer allow long-term exchanges to Turkey.