Police raid schools in Diyarbakır where locals go on strike in protest of recent gov’t practices

Inspectors from various government bodies leave the Nil Primary School in Diyarbakır after examining items such as construction plans, payroll records, cafeteria equipment and fire extinguishers. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Mehmet Yaman)
Inspectors from various government bodies leave the Nil Primary School in Diyarbakır after examining items such as construction plans, payroll records, cafeteria equipment and fire extinguishers. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Mehmet Yaman)

Date posted: August 26, 2015

Police officers and inspectors carried out raids on a number of schools inspired by the faith-based Gülen movement as part of a government-led operation against the movement in southeastern province of Diyarbakır, where people have gone on strike in protest of the government’s recent practices in the province.

Fifteen areas in the Silvan, Lice and Kulp districts of Diyarbakır province have been declared as Special Security Zones — a new name for the infamous Emergency Rule Regions (OHAL) of the 1990s — until Sept. 5 by security forces. Furthermore, the authorities have declared a curfew in the Silvan and Lice districts of the province in the last three weeks. The curfew in Sincan is still ongoing.

Upon a call by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party’s (DBP), shopkeepers in the Silvan and Lice districts of Diyarbakır shut their stores while offices remained closed. After the protests started on Wednesday, life in the city came to a standstill, with only bakeries and pharmacies in the city remaining open.

Despite the current situation in Diyarbakır, police officers from the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau (KOM) accompanied by inspectors from eight government bodies raided the private Nil Primary School, Dicle College, Nil Kindergarten and Leyla Hanım Girls High School.

Twenty inspectors from various government bodies, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and the Social Security Institution (SGK) examined in detail the construction plans, payroll sheets, cafeteria equipment and fire extinguishers of the education institutions.

Another raid was carried out on a private high school in the western province of Manisa. Teams from the Manisa Security Directorate accompanied police officers and inspectors from seven government bodies during a raid of the private Şehzade Mehmet Science and Anatolian High Schools that started around 9:45 a.m.

In addition, private schools under the Yıldırımhan Education Institutions in Mersin were raided by the police and inspectors upon the authorization of the governor’s office. The raids were conducted during school enrollment, causing parents at the institutions to be disturbed by the inspections.

A number of colleges and prep schools in the northern province of Bartın were also raided on Wednesday, after the Bartın Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered a legal search. One of the parents who was not allowed to enter Fatih Secondary School in Bartın questioned the raid, asking: “Who knows the psychology of my child [after he is not allowed to enter his school]? … It’s a shame. I don’t know if we are aware of the kind of country we are living in. We must be ashamed. Everyone in Turkey must speak out against this situation.”

Summer school students of the private Bahar Primary Schools in the northern province of Gümüşhane welcomed police officers and inspectors from seven government bodies coming to raid the school and offered them traditional dishes of the province. Speaking to the press, parent Murat Duman said: “Teachers of Bahar Primary School work devotedly for their students. As a parent I find the raids strange. At a time when we have lost 60 soldiers in 50 days [due to terrorism], I do not accept the oppression and intimidation policies conducted on education institutions instead of terrorists.”

Kemal Karanfil, a penal judge of peace, shared a post on his Facebook account, warning government officers who are carrying out school raids. “An order that constitutes a crime cannot be implemented under any circumstances. Those who implement it cannot get away with it. The judiciary in Turkey will certainly be independent one day and will call to account those [government officers] who discriminate against people, commit hate crimes, violate people’s basic rights and engage in other unlawful actions,” Karanfil emphasized.

Aziz Türkyılmaz, a math teacher of FEM prep schools’ Bartın branch, told the Bugün daily: “[Look at] what we [teachers] have to deal with while we should have been teaching. All we care about is raising good generations for our nation and country. They have come from KOM; I don’t understand what we are smuggling.”

Expert on penal law Mustafa Zeki Yıldırım, an assistant professor from the faculty of law at Fatih University, told the Bugün daily the raids are aimed at publicly humiliating these schools and creating a bad image of them to harm their commercial activities, which constitutes an attack on citizens’ basic rights that are constitutionally guaranteed. “The Constitution mandates government officers to avoid behaving arbitrarily and committing actions that constitute a crime. They should engage in actions that serve equality, justice and the public’s interest,” Yıldırım added.

Source: Today's Zaman , August 26, 2015

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