Ankara (TM) – Turkish academics who were dismissed from their jobs by government decrees during a two-year-long state of emergency have started a campaign on social media to bring up the issue of restrictions still imposed on their passports.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu held a press conference in parliament on Monday stressing the serious problems stemming from the passport restrictions.
Gergerlioğlu said some families were split up due to the restrictions as some academics could not go abroad to live with their families working or staying overseas. Some fired academics were also unable to make use of the scholarships granted by foreign universities or institutions.
Last week Turkish academics launched a social media campaign on Twitter with the hashtag “Freedom to Passports,” stressing that even after the state of emergency was lifted, they still cannot attend conferences or participate in research projects abroad.
Turkey declared a state of emergency following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and revoked it after two years.
During the state of emergency, some 5,700 academics were dismissed by government decrees on “terror charges,” while some of them were jailed. The Turkish government also canceled the passports of dismissed academics.
On July 25, the Interior Ministry announced that restrictions on 155,350 passports belonging primarily to people affiliated with the Gülen movement or their close relatives had been lifted.
The government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating the coup attempt, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.
But some of the dismissed academics were also faulted for signing a petition in January 2016 calling on the government to halt military operations in the southeast of the country that left hundreds of people dead and destroyed parts of the predominantly Kurdish cities.
According to Cenk Yiğiter, a dismissed law professor, the Turkish government cannot infringe on citizens’ right to travel without a court decision, especially after the state of emergency was lifted, BBC Turkish service reported.
“If this goes like that, people will try illegal ways to flee Turkey. You know, some people have died in the Evros River and the Aegean Sea [trying to escape persecution]. I have concerns that one of our friends will share the same fate,” Yiğiter said.