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During the State of Emergency (SoE) period, Munzur University was frequently on the agenda with dismissals of its academic staff, the disciplinary investigations launched into students and the remarks of University President Ubeyde Ipek.
An article addressed by Ali Ekber Yurt, Chairperson of Dersim Cem House, to President Ipek, has recently been published on Tunceli Emek newspaper.
In his article, Yurt has referred to the speech, which was delivered by President Ipek during the inauguration of the academic program, as "academic nonsense" and stated that the remarks of Ipek '... nearly 15 research assistants are continuing with their postgraduate study to work on Alevism' do not reflect the truth.
Following the mutual claims of Ipek and Yurt, we have contacted the Presidency of the University, which informed us that Alevi-Bektashi Institute existed as a building. However, we were not able to obtain any information as to when it was established and what kind of studies it carries out.
Concerning the Institute, about which we consulted the journalists in Dersim and academics working at university, we were informed that the President put pressure on research assistants by telling them to "work on Alevism".
University did not give information
We have tried to access from the official website of the university the information which we could not obtain from Munzur University. There are a few pictures in the website as well as some documents which cannot be opened. (page views of the web site: 1, 2, 3, 4).
Moreover, there is a reference to the research centre in the 2016 institutional assessment report of the University.
In our meeting with Mesut Özcan, one of the writers of Munzur Magazine, we have found out that as of 2015, deliberations to establish an Alevi-Bektashi Institute at the university had begun; but, it could not be activated.
Özcan: President made his own definition of Alevism
According to Özcan, in 2016, University President İpek sent a letter to the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) to establish a university senate for the institute under his chairpersonship. This letter involves a framed definition of Alevism and the subjects of different definitions are referred to as "conspirator", "degenerated".
Özcan has also noted that at a live programme that President İpek attended in Ordu, he said; "There has been a gap. This society has somehow moved away from Alevism, as a consequence, some others filled in that gap .
Özcan has said; "Kenan Güven who was appointed as Governor of Dersim in 1980 also conducted similar work. He had said; 'I came to Islamise this place. There's a gap here." Then, children were taken away from their families and sent to Koran courses, mosques and masjids were opened. In the text issued for the institute, the University President has also undertaken the same position by making his own definition."
"Badem, who put an annotation, was discharged"
As Mesut Özcan has indicated, the document, which was penned in the establishment phase of the institute and offered a "personal definition" of Alevism, was put an annotation by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Candan Badem, who stated, "An institution of education, which is established to conduct scientific studies, cannot make a personal and definite definition."
Badem was first dismissed from his post on the allegation that he was a member of the FETÖ (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, which is held responsible for staging the failed coup on July 15, 2016). Then, he was discharged from the university as per a Statutory Decree in 2017.
Pressure of "work on Alevism"
Upon hearing the statements of Mesut Özcan, we have talked to an academic who was discharged from the Faculty of Arts of the university.
The academic has said that İpek exerted pressure on lecturers, especially the ones studying social sciences, to work on Alevism. The academic has also added that İpek "ordered" academics "to work on Alevism in Islam".
"Research assistants cannot say 'No'"
The discharged academic has also made the following remarks to bianet:
"There is a pressure on research assistants doing their Master's or PhD studies to change their field of research. There is also the pressure made in the Faculty meetings, which target everyone who has been working in the university and order them to conduct studies on Alevism.
"A climate of pressure and fear has been created for academics as a result of dismissals and discharges. That is why, the academics do not have the opportunity to say 'No' to these impositions.
"There is also a distortion of Alevism. Moreover, what is demanded from the academics is not an objective and scientific study, but a study which is set out to reach conclusions and results that are predetermined with a certain aim and religious motivations." (TP/SD)
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