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Abdullah Gül: dismissal of Turkish academics disturbing and painful for one’s conscience

Former President Abdullah Gül comments on dismissal of Turkish academics

Abdullah Gül, the 11th President of the Turkish Republic, has commented on the recent dismissal of Turkish academics by statutory decree. The former President expressed his discomfort and sadness at the dismissals, which he described as “painful for one’s conscience.”

Gül made the comments in response to the press after the opening ceremony of an exhibition in Istanbul by the artist Zeynep Asli Turkeli. He was accompanied at the event by several AKP figures, including Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı, Deputy Chairman Mehdi Eker, and Istanbul Provincial Chairman Selim Temurci.

Dismissal “disturbing and painful”

After the event, Gül was faced with a question on the recent dismissal of academics by statutory decree number 686. This decree was implemented under the scope of the state of emergency in place in Turkey since shortly after the 2016 coup attempt. The former President responded, “I would like to declare that, honestly, I am following these events with sorrow. I have seen many instances regarding these dismissed academics that do not sit well with one’s conscience, and even less so with justice. The increasing frequency of events like this, particularly in the scholarly world and in universities, is both disturbing and painful for one’s conscience.”

“Everybody knows what happened on February 28”

Gül went on to compare the current situation to two previous periods associated with military interventions, the September 12th 1980 coup and the February 28th 1997 military memorandum. “I remember; there were security inquiries after September 12th. I was an academic at university. Because of this security investigation, I had to leave university and go abroad. Everybody knows what happened on February 28. Therefore, it is necessary to take a principled approach to situations like these, which fly in the face of conscience and justice. I find these very disturbing. I hope they will improve quickly.”

A way out of the Syrian “swamp”

Gül was also asked for his opinion on news from Turkey’s “Euphrates Shield” military operation in Syria, where Turkish casualties have made headlines, including those killed in an apparent friendly fire incident by a Russian warplane in El Bab. The former President expressed his condolences to the families of slain soldiers, while stating that the technical operations in Syria are a matter that the country’s administration are responsible for. However, Gül ended his remarks with the recommendation that Turkey should be “extricated from this swamp [the Syrian operations] in a calm and assured manner.”

Osman Bilgin


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