Yesterday we reported on the arrest of Iranian teachers involved in fighting for democracy and public education. Today we hear that teacher union activists and leaders have been arrested yet again in Turkey by the forces of the Erdogan government.

Turkish teachers joined other activists in February in strikes and protests against the increasing 'islamisation' of education in the country. According to one of the main organisers of the protests, 'Islamization is a central strategy of the neo-liberal government of Tayyip Erdogan. The ruling elite believe that those opposing them are secular or at least 'not Muslim enough' so 'they think that if they Islamize the education, a new generation will be formed in line with the new regime.' 

At the time, protests were attacked by riot police and school authorities were urged to punish teachers who took part. Now we hear that 29 teachers and officials from the education union Egitim Sen have been arrested and questioned, accused of using slogans to 'insult the president.'

One of the 29, union official Kocaeli Suca Omurca said: 'the purpose is to intimidate people but we will not be intimidated. We expected the government to hear our voice. But instead of hearing us, the prosecutor’s office launched an investigation.

Teachers have undergone a long history of repression in Turkey especially under the current government, with many leaders and activists arrested or sacked and police repression of demonstrations. Not only are they facing a centrally dictated change in the culture of the schools, hundreds of thousands are on temporary contracts while many more are unemployed, even though there is a severe shortage of teachers in the country. 

To read more about the background to this struggle, go here.