Turkey’s new legislation that grants the Council of Higher Education (YOK) authority to dismiss academics for “terrorist propaganda” is an attempt to limit the freedoms of academics, former Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Mustafa Yeneroğlu said April 14 in his first parliament speech as a Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) lawmaker.
“The first goal is to make academics, officers of authority and to be able to convict them in non-constitutional ways. The second goal is to further limit the freedoms of independent foundation universities and to pave the way to eventually seize their activities,” Yeneroğlu said in his first speech in a parliament general session as a DEVA lawmaker.
The newly-titled deputy of former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan said that the legislation paves the way for the YOK to shut down foundation universities.
“If there’s an institution here that needs to be shut down it’s the Council of Higher Education itself.”
Yeneroğlu said that the legislation targets former prime minister and ally of President Erdogan, Ahmet Davutoğlu and the private Istanbul Sehir University he’s affiliated with.
The lawmaker called the legislation a tool that politicizes the law.
“Those who can shut down one of the finest universities in the country, Sehir University, could pressure other universities for nothing, and could completely dismiss honor and justice.”
‘Look at where we ended up’
Yeneroğlu referred to another former member of the AKP and Sehir University board member Ömer Dinçer, urging the government to take his statements about the university into consideration.
Dinçer said April 14 that President Erdogan had aimed to assign a trustee to the university’s management some two years prior to the event.
“Dear lawmakers, I listened to our fellow colleague, our companion in a common cause, former minister of years, dear Mister Ömer Dinçer. Think about the ideals we set out with, look at where we ended up,” Yeneroğlu said.
Yeneroğlu also referred to the AKP, referring to himself and his former colleagues as “we.”
“We had set out with the promise of a free and pluralistic, democratic Turkey. Turkey has become a uniformist country that undermines basic rights, that punishes free thought and that fills prisons with great thinkers and journalists.”