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Erdogan government curtails academic freedoms

The Turkish government's tightening regulations on the academic code of conduct could be another blow to freedom of expression.
A student argues with riot police during a protest against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan at the Middle East Technical University (ODTU) in Ankara December 15, 2010. Erdogan was at the university to attend a meeting. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTXVQL4

My first childhood memories include a pair of dark green boots and men in uniform. They were soldiers who had come to pick up our neighbor, a general. I was a child of Turkey's post-1980s coup. I grew up with a fear of any political opinion. “Anarchist” was the monster under our beds those years. My generation was mostly “apolitical.”

These thoughts crossed my mind as I watched the youth protest Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to my alma mater, the Middle East Technical University, back in December 2012. At the time, about 3,600 police protected Erdogan against 300 student protesters. This was six months before the Gezi protests. Erdogan condemned not just the students for “terrorizing” the campus, but also the academics for supporting their right to protest. He suggested these academics should quit academia and join the protesters, since an academic’s job is to “teach students valuable information, like how to use a computer. I condemn all academics who support these protests. We do not need teachers like this.”

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