Turkey’s post-coup brain drain

More than 100 academics from this Istanbul technical university were arrested on November 18
More than 100 academics from this Istanbul technical university were arrested on November 18


Date posted: November 25, 2016

Seda Sezer Bilen, Hülya Topçu Erdoğan

Whether sacked in the post-coup purge or for signing a petition decrying violence against Kurds, Turkish academics are leaving in droves and don’t plan to return. They say more will follow, irreparably damaging Turkey.

After spending years researching abroad, Bekir Cinar returned to Turkey to as an academic. But this year, he was forced to leave the country again, when the university he worked at was shut down suddenly and many other academics were detained in the country.

“I had returned to Turkey to make a contribution. I had worked in Poland, Albania and the UK. But I guess they don’t want anybody contributing to the country because they shut down the university. After it was shut down, there was nothing I could do. I had connections at Leeds Beckett University. So I called them and they said I could work there,” Cinar said.

Just like Cinar, hundreds of academics who have worked overseas and returned to Turkey – only to become unemployed amid the government’s post-coup purges – are leaving the country once again. Since declaring a state of emergency and enforcing various decree laws after the coup attempt, nearly 110,000 Turkish civil servants have either been dismissed or detained; 36,000 have been arrested. In addition, all academics were banned from leaving the country.

Education has been a notable target for the Turkish government since July 15’s coup attempt. Since then, the government has shut down 15 universities and around 1,000 secondary education institutions.

Bekir Cinar was working as an assistant professor at the political sciences department of Suleyman Sah University when it fell victim to the crackdown. He says that many academics with different views were working at the university.

‘Now some are taxi drivers’  

Cinar said the brain drain would continue in increasing numbers.

“They fired nearly 3,000 to 4,000 people. If they could, if they had their passports, all of them would leave the country. I believe that nearly all academics that speak fluent English, French or German – those who can continue their work in another language – will leave Turkey within a six-month period.”

The purge on universities continues. Last Friday, 103 academics from Yildiz Technical University were detained.

Cinar is currently continuing his scientific work at a British university. He says that about 10 of his colleagues from other shuttered universities have gone to the UK, taking any jobs they can get.

“I have colleagues, friends here. None of them are working in their own field. Some have become taxi drivers; some are working at cafes and kebab restaurants. And these people are academics.”

Cinar considers this a major loss for Turkey, not least because it takes 20 to 30 years to become an academic. He says that he is not planning on returning to Turkey ever again.

‘Denying their bread and butter’

Germany is another popular destination for the academics-in-exile. Nil Mutluer, formerly the dean of the Nisantasi University Sociology Department, was sacked for signing the Academics for Peace petition. She’s been in Germany for a few months now, and is lecturing at Berlin’s Humboldt University.

“Like many journalists and human rights activists, we were targeted and fired from our jobs because we wanted peace,” Mutluer said, a reference to the Academics for Peace petition, whose signatories criticize Turkey’s military crackdown on parts of its Kurdish population. The petition, and “terror” trials against some of its signatories, predate July’s attempted coup.

Mutluer came to Germany on a fellow academic’s invitations. She said that many academics were fired not because they had ties to the Gulen movement – which Turkey blames for the failed coup – but because they signed the petition or they were trade union members.

“Because of the way they were fired, they will never get jobs as a civil servant again. They’re going after people’s bread and butter. So of course they’ll try to find employment in other countries.”

Mutluer also said that many academics who signed the petition have left the country or are planning on leaving – warning that the phenomenon extends further.

“This brain drain doesn’t just include academics. Educated people, journalists, writers, artists, many people have left the country. I see many people from the middle class, businessmen, trying to find ways to leave. These were people who were happy in their county, who had studied abroad and returned home, and were living in peace. And I was one of them,” she said. “But now it’s not safe for us. We have to think of the safety of our children and their future as well.”

The enforced exodus of Turkish academics even prompted protests in Pakistan

Increased interest in Germany

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) confirms an uptick in interest in Germany among Turkish students and academics. Dr. Wiebke Bachmann, head of the DAAD in Istanbul, said that the number of students wanting to study in Germany has increased, as well as the number of academics wanting to continue their research in Germany.

It is estimated that there are 100-150 academics in Germany who have signed the Academics for Peace. Halil Ibrahim Yenigun put his name to the paper while working at the Istanbul Commerce University. First he was suspended and then he was fired from his job at the university.

Yenigun said that being an academic in Turkey required a lot of sacrifice. “Most of us want to return home and pass on our experience to the young people of Turkey. That’s all we wanted to do. Before all this, there were many good academics in poorly managed universities. They had doctorates and many publications. They were lecturing with lots of sacrifice and heavy class loads. But we put up with all of it because we wanted to contribute to the education of young people.”

Yenigun is currently doing a post-doctorate at the Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien research institute. He said that he is in a much better academic environment than Turkey and that Turkey has lost many valuable academics.

“These are people who attended state schools and then studied with taxpayers’ money. They went on to do doctorates overseas. And just as they’ve come back to give back to their country, you pluck them away from contributing to the youth of the nation. This is treason. They’re betraying our country’s future. They’re robbing the young of a good education.”

Source: Deutsche Welle , November 22, 2016


Related News

IFLC sends messages of peace in Germany, calls for Turkey to widen its horizon

The 13th International Festival of Language and Culture (IFLC) held in Germany offered a moving closing ceremony over the weekend that included calls on Turkey to broaden its horizon — given the continuing inner turmoil in the country — so that it can see “lights of love and tolerance” spread across the globe.

Principles of Gulen Inspired Schools – Boarding Schools

First and foremost, majority of Gulen inspired schools are boarding schools serving in the under-served parts of any given country. These schools intend to provide students with a safe educational environment free of distractions that may occur from, among others, dysfunctional families, economic instability, social and cultural problems. Lets analyze these factors one by one.

Turkey will hurt own interests if gov’t shuts down Kimse Yok Mu

Former Director for East African Affairs for the US State Department Professor David Shinn said in an interview, “If the government of Turkey is trying to shut down Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anybody There) it would seem to be a case of hurting its own interests in Africa.”

On Hizmet exceptionalism

What is perhaps saddest about this witch-hunt is that Hizmet is a priceless resource for any government. It serves without any burden on public funds and efforts. It is a rich source of reliable manpower devoted to selfless service and ready to raise the banner of Turkey, on peaceful terms, alongside the flags of all other nations around the world. Instead of being propelled by this free energy, and benefitting from its resources, the Turkish government acts in jealousy, and tries to destroy it.

I support Turkish schools with all my heart

AYDIN PAZARCI, BISHKEK Kyrgyz Prime Minister Atambayev said: “Not only are Turkish efforts in the arena of education helping Kyrgyzstan, they are also seriously contributing to improving relations between the two nations. This is why I support these efforts with all my heart.” Schools connected to the International Sebat Educational Institution active in Kyrgyzstan, such […]

Erdogan: A saint elsewhere, outside Turkey’s shores?

On a recent trip to Spain, I picked a copy of the International New York Times, and saw a story that shocked me greatly. It said Mr Erdogan had ordered the release of 38,000 prisoners serving various jail terms, for different offences, in order to make space for the so-called coup plotters who had no space in Turkey’s overflowing prison. I was totally shocked by the news because I can’t imagine a situation where convicted criminals are being set free just so political opponents can be locked up.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Turkey: Detained higher education professionals at risk of torture

Turkish minister’s leaked emails show pro-gov’t figure has eye on Gülen-linked dormitory

Erdoğan’s allegations proven to be incorrect, contradictory over time

Abant Platform meeting launches with identity debates in Turkey

EU calls on Turkey to Investigate abduction cases targeting Gülen Movement

Erdogan’s diplomats have become ‘Gulenist-busters’

Kazakh Turkish Schools Realize Nazarbayev’s Dreams

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News