On October 5th, World Teachers’ Day, teachers who are barred from practicing their profession with statutory decrees came together in Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ capital city, and shared the unjust treatment they were subjected to with a press release in Turkish, English, and Dutch.
On behalf of the Broken Chalk members, Broken Chalk Spokesperson Erdinç Demirok made the English statement, Fatih Ok in Dutch, and Broken Chalk board member Feride Özer in Turkish.
Feride Özer, a board member of Broken Chalk, explained their schedule and said: “October 5th is known as World Teachers’ Day. It is celebrated throughout the world with the theme “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future.” Teachers are trying to do their best for their students during Covid-19. Although teaching is the utmost important job, compared to the other professions, they are underpaid. Nobody can pay what they deserve. They are the ones who shape our future. Adequate payment is not the only problem they are facing. As Broken Chalk, we are here to celebrate World Teachers’ Day and be the voice of the teachers who have been killed, put in prison, exiled, and lost their lives due to oppression, conflict, and persecution in the world.
Ozer added, “Teachers are the architects of society. Every individual accepts that education is the number one priority of humanity. Without the proper knowledge, we could not be able to create a peaceful community. The light of education can help us eliminate the evils from society and introduce good thoughts. Today we would like to celebrate The Teachers Day of all the teachers in the world.
Moreover, we would like to bring the teachers in danger to the public in different parts of the world. The attacks range from the bombing of schools to the killing of students and teachers. Rape and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and forced recruitment also occurred instigated by armed groups. Attacks on education harm the students and teachers, but they also affect the communities both in the short and long term.”
TEACHERS ARE UNDER ATTACK ALL OVER THE WORLD
- In Nigeria, Northeast 611 teachers were killed, 910 schools were destroyed in nine years.
In Mali, 75 children have been injured in violent attacks, close to 100 are confirmed to have been recruited as child soldiers, and 900 schools remain closed due to insecurity.
- More than 22,000 students and teachers were harmed or killed in attacks on education in the last five years.
- In the US, since 2009, at least 177 schools have experienced a shooting. Attackers killed 110 students and teachers, injured 246.
- Between 2015 and 2019, 93 countries experienced at least one attack on education, 19 more than the previous reporting period of 2013-2017.
- Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo were particularly badly hit, with 1,500 attacks on schools in each country, and Afghanistan, Palestine, and Syria all saw 500.
- In Cameroon, over 1,000 school and university students have been threatened, abducted, injured, or killed by armed groups or security forces.
- In Ukraine, since the conflict began in early 2014, more than 750 educational facilities on both sides of the contact line have been damaged or destroyed due to hostilities.
The cases mentioned above are the outcome of war and conflict. One of the priorities of governments is to reduce such problems. Teachers and students from Turkey have been facing human rights violations from their Government for a long time. Their Government has taken the lives of the teachers and their families. Torture and losing their jobs are also among the things that educators have been suffering. Teachers have been exposed to torture, put in prison, exiled, and lost their lives.
- According to the data compiled by the Union of Education (Eğitim-Sen), the Turkish Government dismissed 41,005 educators, including 33,965 teachers, 5,740 academic personnel, 1,300 administrative staff at educational facilities.
- Moreover, the Government revoked the teaching licenses of more than 23,464 teachers, who used to work for the private schools affiliated with the Gülen movement.
- The number of teachers, who have shared the same fate since they used to work for university preparation schools affiliated with the Gülen movement, is officially unknown. However, the total number is believed to be around 30,000.
- According to the information given by Turkish Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz, 1,069 private schools were closed.
- Just after the coup attempt, the Government closed 1550 university preparation schools and three hundred one private study centers, and thus, 19,847 people were added to the unemployed list.
- Fifteen private universities, where more than 56,000 students were taking higher education, were also closed, and thus 5,342 people, including 2,465 academicians, lost their jobs.
Due to the current Government’s unlawful and unjust practices in Turkey, the oppression of society, cancellation of teachers’ diplomas, work permits, and passports, hundreds of thousands of people had to leave their country illegally by risking their lives. Unfortunately, some of them, including babies and children, lost their lives during their journeys across the Aegean Sea and Evros River. Some examples which were teachers are as follows:
- Maden family: Mother and father died in the Aegean Sea along with their three children.
- Doğan and Abdulrezzak families died in the Evros river with their children.
- Halil Dinç, who was also a teacher, died of a heart attack in Athens, Greece.
Broken Chalk board member Feride Özer emphasized the fact that the Turkish Government is targeting educators living abroad: “Turkish Foreign Minister has been boastful about the abduction of 100 people from 18 countries by the Turkish National Intelligence Agency. Turkish Government has been abducting teachers from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Albania, Bulgaria, Gabon, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan, and Qatar.
As Broken Chalk, with a reputable community and press members, we believe that teachers should celebrate this day as usual together with their students. Unfortunately, some of them already died under challenging conditions or in exile, and some others died in suspicious ways, armed groups destroyed schools. Teachers have dedicated themselves to their work and continue to educate students and contribute to society and humanity wherever they live. We continue to demand justice for teachers through national and international judiciary. We want to draw the attention of governments, stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, and human rights defenders to fight against the human rights violations educators are facing. We wish all the teachers in the world a Happy Teachers’ Day!”.
LETTERS TO THE DUTCH AUTHORITIES
Broken Chalk organized a letter campaign regarding October 5th, World Teachers’ Day. As part of the campaign, letters were sent by Broken Chalk members to many institutions and individuals, including ministries, NGOs, mayors, school principals, and teachers.