Fatih Saygın / Gazete Duvar
Turkish authorities in November 2013 launched an investigation into a physical education teacher named Seçil Esmanur Erdem on the grounds that she threw an egg at the car convoy of the then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Black Sea province of Trabzon.
Erdem was initially imposed a judicial fine and appointed to another middle school. In September 2014, the Education Ministry’s High Disciplinary Board ruled that Erdem be expelled from civil service on the grounds that she “threw egg at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and insulted him with swearing words.”
Erdem took her case to the Constitutional Court which ruled that she return to her profession. Accordingly, Erdem’s salaries will be paid to her retroactively. The 51-year-old Erdem will start her duty at Trabzon’s Hafız Mehmet Ofluoğlu Middle School, nine years after being expelled from civil service.
Erdem shared her joy with the left-wing teachers’ union Eğitim-Sen Trabzon branch’s executives. She told Gazete Duvar that although she was not the one who had thrown the egg, she had faced the accusation due to her membership in Eğitim-Sen.
“The prime ministry guards (at the time) found a lying witness and made him/her say that I was the one who did the act (of throwing the egg)…Since I was an Eğitim-Sen member, they came more down on me. Although we demanded the MOBESE (security camera) footage, they were never sent to the court,” she said.
“There is the factor of me being an Eğitim-Sen member for why this punishment was given. For example, if I were a member of Eğitim-Bir-Sen (a teachers’ union with close connections to the government), this punishment would not be given. I would never insult anyone. They dumped the whole thing in my lap. I am very pleased about my union. They have never left me alone during this process. They have given me every kind of support," Erdem further said.
Eğitim Sen Trabzon branch’s head Bülent Mumcu said that this incident shows that rights can be protected when there is an “organized struggle.” “We are a union that never leaves teachers alone with regards to the injustice they face,” he said.
(English version by Didem Atakan)