MESOP REPORT TURKEY : REPORT ABOUT ARRESTATIONS, DETENTIONS, SUSPENSION & FIRING OF MEMBERS OF EGITIM-SEN DIYARBAKIR BRANCHES
Since the peace and negotiation process with the Kurds was put to an end by the Turkish Government, we have been going through a period in which law and democracy are put aside and undemocratic actions have achieved a peak. Hundreds of thousands of people have become refugees in their homeland due to ongoing armed conflicts and curfews in the region. Raising their voices and opposing the violations of civil rights and destructions in cities, labourers and teachers have become a target for the government and various fascist groups.
After the armed conflict got intensified in city centers, labor organizations such as KESK, DISK, TMMOB, TTB wanted to hold a demonstration in Ankara to call for peace. However, ISIS, backed by warmongering barons who don’t favor peace and prosperity in society, carried out suicide bombs and murdered more than a hundred laborers and civil demonstrators before the rally began. After the Ankara Massacre, a new concept of attack and opposition has been put into practice against labourers. And opposing sections in society face vicious actions and unimaginably high numbers of violations of human rights.
We think that this suppression against members of Egitim-Sen and labourers in
general is closely related to the unsolved Kurdish question. If the peace and
negotiation process had been successful, teachers and labourers probably would
have been heroes of this process. Because members of KESK (Confederation of
Unions of Public Labourers), have stood against curfews and took to the streets
rallying even during armed conflict, risking their lives. Our antiwar attitude was
confronted by government and police’s harsh oppression and they related our
organization to illegal organizations and they have launched numerous investigations
against us. A lot of investigations have been launched against many teachers.
Various kinds of oppression have been carried out by government against civil
organizations and unions, trying to force them into picking sides. Their main aim is
trying to establish a militarized atmosphere, spread fear and hence make members
resign from unions and impose a disgraceful life upon them. We summarized the
violations of rights of teachers and unions who have been trying to create a public
We want to list attacks and suppressions against public labourers in Diyarbakir as of
- Administrative investigations were opened against a lot of our members for the
reason that a declaration from our central union was read at schools on the
third class of school day about violations of educational rights in curfew
- Administrative investigations were launched against 4913 members of our
union for the reason that they attended a one day strike – whose motto was
‘we advocate life but not death, and we advocate peace but not war- in
December 29, 2015. During the investigation process, teachers got threatened
and oppressed by inspectors, provincial directorate of national education and
Ministry for National Education to make teachers resign from the union.
- During the December 29 strike, we carried out a rally for a nonviolent and
peaceful world with non-governmental organizations in our city, and criminal
investigations were opened against 56 members of KESK.
- In February 2016, investigations were opened against 15 teachers who
attended a 18 day-long demonstration, ‘on watch for peace’, carried out by
our union in front of Guesthouse.
- Government issued a circle, 2016/4, which considers public labourers freedom
of communication and expression as criminal actions. Making public
demonstrations are banned and therefore public labourer try to express their
opinions via social media, yet a witch hunt has begun against them:
23 teachers got suspended in Bismil district. Criminal and administrative
investigations were opened against 12 teachers from Silvan, 7 from Dicle and
8 from central districts. Teachers received 1 to 3 years suspension of ranks,
and 10 of our members got expelled against their will.
- Based on the article in UNESCO regılations that was added in 1999, February
21 is celebrated as International Mother Language Day. To celebrate this day,
our union Egitim-Sen, has been holding demonstration. We fill one hour of
curriculum in our own mother language (Kurds fill it in Kurdish, Lazes fill it in
Laz. Investigations were launched by inspectors of Diyarbakir provincial
directorate of national education. As a result of the investigation 360 teachers
received wage deduction. The aim of this deduction is not to punish teachers
economically, but to threaten and oppress them so they can’t attend future
strikes and protests.
- Again in May 15, Kurdish language day, teachers filled the curriculum in
Kurmanci and Zazaki dialects of the Kurdish language and again
investigations were launched against them. They received various
VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS OF MEMBERS OF EGITIM-SEN AFTER THE JULY 15
There happened a military coup attempt in July 15 as a result of escalation of tension
between the government and its rival in power. The government overcame this
attempt with the help of people but then it has put “a civil coup” into practice. In a
time when executive, legislative and judicial powers are intertwined, there have been
operations against Gulen community (which was supposed to be the perpetrator of
coup attempt and also has been in bed with the government for 14 years) in public
works. These operations were legitimized by decrees. As of 18.10.2016, one hundred
three thousand (103.000) people have been sacked and suspended. This figure is
increasing every day.
The government had failed in trying to decrease number of Egitim-Sen members for
a year, and then, by taking advantage of the failed coup attempt, they are now
attacking teachers of Egitim-Sen and labourers of KESK. 11.301 teachers got
suspended by administrative arbitrary decisions. Of them, 9843 are members of
Egitim-Sen. Besides, 90% of teachers are of Kurdish origin, and almost all of them
live in the region. And 4313 of them work in Diyarbakir.
Turkey was exported across 1400 public worker.Diyarbakır was expelled 80 88
health teacher assistant
WHY TEACHERS OF KURDISH ORIGIN?
We think that these suspensions and sacks are ethnic and racist, and their aim is to
weaken Egitim-Sen. And we see that the people in this region also agree with us. We
even suspect that today’s process resembles that of 1925 -Reform Project in Eastern
Part of the country- (thousands of people were forced to leave their homeland and go
to Turkish populated cities in the western part of the country). Our family and friends
express their concerns about this. And the government bases the accusations on
relating us to illegal organizations, which is a dangerous approach.
Names of suspended teachers were made public in pro government unions’
websites, which is even more dangerous. After the publication of the names, lots of
fascist groups started racist and fascist campaigns on twitter and other social media
websites, stating that the suspended teachers are members of illegal organizations
and they openly threatened our members. This fascist threats created a counteract in
our region and we have even heard people saying “ok, then we will not let Turkish
teachers work here”. The government policies created a dangerous atmosphere
where Turkish teachers are afraid to work in this region and Kurdish teachers are
afraid to work outside of the region. The government will be held solely responsible
for any problems that the teachers may have.
A NEW TYPE OF ASSIMILATION?
Another dangerous act is the profile of hired teachers to fill vacancies. For years
Egitim-Sen has been revealing the assimilationist acts of Kemalist-Nationalist and
Religious-Conservative teachers on Kurdish children. Education in mother language
was put in Egitim-Sen regulations in 2004, and because of that article, Egitim-Sen
has paid the price many times. Many of its members were murdered in 1990s, still
We warned before that hired pro government teachers would be Islamists and racist.
And unfortunately, we were right.
At Mesut Yılmaz primary school in Diyarbakir, a hired teacher wanted to change the
name of a student, named BIRYAR (means “determined” in Kurdish) to Ramazan (it
means “ramadan” a month in which muslims fast). The teacher wrote the name
“ramazan” on the boy’s hand and told the class to call him “Ramazan” instead of
“Biryar” from now on. After the student’s family intervention, the teacher stepped back
and told the family not to politicize the matter. “Name issue” hasn’t been a problem
for a long time but after the suspension of Egitim-Sen members, the problem seems
to have risen again, which isn’t a coincidence.
SOCIOLOGY OF SUSPENDED TEACHERS
Among the suspended teachers, there are people who have devoted their lives to
human rights as well as teachers who are also award-winning writers (at least 4 of
them write in Kurdish) and film makers. There are 10 suspended teachers of same
family. There are suspended husbands and wives, fathers and daughters&sons, and
teachers and their former students.
IT’S A HARD JOB TO BE A TEACHER IN THIS REGION
Considering the conditions of the region, it is important to see that it is not very easy
to be a teacher and despite of the poor conditions, the teens are eager to study and
work in their neighborhood. The teachers from poor and crowded families have
mainly preferred to study and work in neighboring cities. Among these suspended
teachers there are some who had been taken out their villages by force in 90s. The
unemployment rate is nearly 70% in some cities of the region. For these reasons, it is
essential for the local people to educate their children and send them to the
universities. The profession of teaching is preferable among the teens to be able to
stop the assimilation and as there is a higher possibility to be appointed. Because of
their identities and their political actions many Kurdish teens either leave or are
expelled from the university. Detentions and arrests have been common procedures
for Kurdish teens who insist on their identities.
WHY THE MEMBERS OF EGITIM-SEN?
It is clear that the members of Egitim-Sen have a deep effect on the local people.
Their efforts to set democratic, secular and intellectual standards cannot be
underestimated. We think that the attitude of female members towards the violence
against the women, studies on child brides and exposing child abuse at schools
disturbed the government. To us, the efforts of our members to stop the attempts of
designing an illiterate and more religious society disturbed the government. The main
reason why the government wants to suppress us is our demand for a free and
mother tongue based educational system.
EDUCATIONAL STATUS IN DIYARBAKIR AND HOW DID PUBLIC SPACE
BECOME A PART OF SECURITY POLICIES?
While education totally stopped in districts such as; Sur,Cizre, Silopi which were
under curfew and witnessed severe conflict, educators in some other risky areas
continued to work at their schools to normalize the living conditions of heavily
affected children by risking their own lives. Every activity performed by Egitim-sen
was criminalized by the Government during this period and members of Egitim-Sen
were pointed as targets.
In many cities of this region, notably in Diyarbakır, many schools, dormitories and
community clinics were turned into police stations. In Diyarbakır some schools such
as; Hüseyin Uluğ, Seyrantepe, Atatürk, Yüzüncü Yıl, Çelebi Eser, Kayapınar, Hülya
Tugay, Vehbi Koç are used as police stations at nights while serving as schools in
daytime. The schoolyards are surrounded by concrete barriers and turned into mobile
police stations. On the third of March, 2016 two six-year-old students, Furkan ÖNER
and Ayaz ÖZDEMİR lost their lives after being trapped under these concrete barriers.
HOW WERE THE NAME LISTS OF SUSPENDED TEACHERS MADE?
The way how the name lists of suspended teachers were made is an administrative
and judicial scandal. As we mentioned before, the name lists of our members, who
participated in demonstrations of our union and union-related activities, were made
beforehand. The name lists of our members, who had nothing to do with the coup
attempt, were made beforehand by the followers of Fethullah Gülen, who is blamed
for the coup attempt. Many of these bureaucrats are still on trial. Some of them are
suspended or sacked. Many education inspectors, including Vice Governor in charge
of National Education who made name lists and instituted inquiries, are now prisoned
for being followers of Gülen movement. Besides, Chairman Inspectorate of National
Education of Diyarbakir, who had many contributions to these lists, is suspended for
the same reason. The Government insistently uses these name lists as base which
means a serious violations of rights. When it comes to Kurdish teachers or members
of Egitim-Sen, the government doesn’t hesitate to act together with Gülen movement
which is blamed for the coup attempt.
INVESTIGATIONS, DETENTIONS AND ARRESTS, FORBIDDEN
DEMONSTRATIONS AND ACTIVITIES
On September 9, after we were informed officially that we had been suspended, we
tried to make a statement to the press. After the attack of the police, 47 of our
members, who were mainly women, were detained.
27 students were detained at Dağkapı Square as they wanted to support their
teachers. Most of these students were under the age of 18.
Parents of our students who filed the petition ‘I want my teacher back.’ were
detained. Also some parents were reported and threatened by the school
managements which mainly consist of members of Pro-AKP union, Egitim-Bir-Sen.
All around Turkey, being able to take part in school managements requires being a
member of Egitim-Bir-sen. We know that some name lists of suspended teachers are
made at union branches of Egitim-Bir-Sen.
As it is forbidden to perform any activity outside, we arranged a sit-down in our union
building to take attention on the suspended teachers for 18 days. During this time the
building was surrounded by panzers and the police took pictures of everybody who
entered the building.
We organized bicycle tours that were again accompanied with panzers. The police
filmed and took pictures of those who supported us or even just applauded us on
On the first day of the schools, our members conducted a series of activities to
arouse a public awareness. Most of the students and their parents supported these
activities. The police attacked some activities and some of our members were
detained in front of their students.
On September 19, 11 teachers were detained for wearing T-shirts with the text ‘Leave
Our Teachers Alone’ at schools in Silvan.
On September 20, 20 teachers were detained and fined for wearing these T-shirts on
2 teachers were detained for wearing these T-shirts at schools in Ergani. On the
same day, some students and their parents were also detained.
The teachers wearing these T-shirts at schools were exposed to the repression of the
police in Lice.
The police harshly attacked our ‘Human Chain’ activity which was a democratic
reaction and detained our 17 members, most of whom were women.
HOUSE RAIDS BY THE POLICE SPECIAL FORCES
In order to prevent union-related activities and weaken the resistance, heavily armed
police raided the houses of many union members. These members were exposed to
psychological torture. 70 members of our union were detained during these house
A teacher, mother of an eight-week-old baby, was detained. Another teacher, whose
husband also was detained in a previous operation and the mother of a four-monthold baby, was taken in custody for five days.
There are detained teachers of same family. There are detained sisters who have two
and four-year-old children.
Because of this lawlessness, two children aged 6 and 8, had to stay at home without
their parents for 5 days.
Under emergency rule, the detained teachers are denied access to their families or
lawyers for five days.
14 teachers charged with union-related activities such as; demand on education in
mother tongue, call for a peaceful environment or better employee rights, are still in
BILLBOARD WARS BETWEEN EGITIM-SEN AND THE GOVERNMENT
To arouse public awareness, we made T-shirts, leaflets, posters with the text: ‘Leave
Our Teachers Alone’. But the authorities forbade them all. All the posters that we
hung on billboards were confiscated. But as a reaction we again hung posters on
billboards saying: ‘ Leave Egitim-Sen Alone’. But ‘Leave Egitim-Sen Alone’ was also
forbidden in Diyarbakir. After all, the Governor forbade our all union-related activities.
In Siverek, a teacher was detained after being charged with having a sticker saying
‘Leave Our Teachers Alone’ on her car. Because it is forbidden in Diyarbakır.
Despite everything, as Egitim-Sen we will continue struggling for peace and
democracy. We have stood up for life against death, for peace against war. We will
continue struggling for scientific, free, democratic, secular and mother tongue based
education. We call for the government to respect the human rights, to remove
obstacles on union-related activities, to stop detentions and suspension. We call for
the national and international public and non-governmental organizations to be
sensitive and aware of this subject. We call for everybody to say ‘NO’ to this
lawlessness to create a free and equal world.
Diyarbakır Eğitim- Sen Branches 1, 2 and 3