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Turkish Schools, Charities Shut in First Decree of Emergency

  • VOA News

Pro-government supporters protest on the road leading to Istanbul's iconic Bosporus Bridge, background left, July 21, 2016.

Pro-government supporters protest on the road leading to Istanbul's iconic Bosporus Bridge, background left, July 21, 2016.

More than 1,000 private schools and more than 1,000 associations and foundations have been closed in Turkey as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan released his first decree since declaring a three-month state of emergency.

After a coup attempt last week failed to topple him and his government, Erdogan also decreed that suspects can be detained for up to 30 days without charges — a stark change from the previous maximum of four days.

Among the 1,229 charities and foundations being shut down for their suspected involvement with the Gulen movement are 19 trade unions, 15 universities and 35 medical institutions. Erdogan has blamed Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for the coup attempt last week. Gulen, who lives in the U.S., has denied the accusation.

There are also signs that Turkey is pressing other countries to crack down on Gulen-linked schools. Shortly after the failed coup, Somali authorities said they were closing Gulen-linked projects in their country. On Saturday, Pakistani authorities said they were under pressure from Turkey to close about two dozen schools and were considering administrative actions against them. There were unconfirmed media reports that officials in Cambodia and Tanzania also were considering requests to close Gulen institutions.

The three-month state of emergency announced Wednesday has been widely seen by rights groups and global leaders as clearing the way for further purging of Erdogan's opponents. It allows for the president and government to pass laws without parliament's approval.

The number of people detained has reached more than 9,000, including 6,000 military members, who are being held in what Erdogan described as “pre-trial detention.” By some estimates, almost 50,000 public officials, including judges and academics, were suspended or ordered to resign.

Turkish state media on Wednesday said the government had banned all academics from traveling out of Turkey. The reported order came after more than 21,000 employees of the Education Ministry, including more than 1,500 university deans, were suspended Tuesday.

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