Turkey Suspends Thousands of Teachers, Linked to PKK

yyyTurkey is waging the largest operation in its history against Kurdish militants and the removal of civil servants linked to them is a key part of the fight, President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday, as more than 11,000 teachers were suspended.

The crackdown comes as Ankara also pushes ahead with a purge of tens of thousands of supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, accused by Turkey of orchestrating an attempted coup in July.

Erdoğan has repeatedly said he will not stop in his efforts to quash both the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) or followers of Gülen, a network Ankara has labeled as FETÖ, meaning “Gülen Terror Organisation”.

“We have run and are currently running the largest operations against the PKK terrorist organization in its history, both within and across our borders,” Erdoğan said.

“Whether it’s the struggle against the PKK or against the FETÖ, an important dimension of this struggle is the removal of civil servants that are extensions of these organization within the state.”

Turkey has sacked or suspended 100,000 people following the failed July 15 coup. At least 40,000 people have been detained on suspicion of links to Gülen’s network and half of those arrested.

Following the coup, there has been no let-up in the government’s campaign against the PKK in the mainly Kurdish southeast. The group, seen as a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union, has waged a three-decade insurgency that has killed 40,000 people, most of them Kurds.

The government suspended 11,500 teachers over alleged links to the PKK, an official said on Thursday, after Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said during a visit to the region over the weekend that there were an estimated 14,000 teachers with links to the militants.

Security officials and local media reports said the state had appointed administrators to two municipalities in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, although the local governor later denied it.