Schools in east face safety woes amid extra guard promise

Schools in east face safety woes amid extra guard promise

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Schools in east face safety woes amid extra guard promise

This photo shows a group of students who cannot attend their school in Hakkari’s Yüksekova district after the school building was attacked by the PKK. DHA photo

Teachers stationed in eastern and southeastern Turkey have expressed fears for their safety amid increasing attacks against schools by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) while noting their reluctance to abandon their posts.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News on the condition that their last names not be printed, three schoolteachers in the eastern province of Van said they were not being given enough protection.

Selim, a teacher who has been serving in Van for five years, said he had considered requesting a transfer to a western province due to the increasing attacks before abandoning the idea.

“Due to our worries, I considered demanding a reassignment to another province, like many of my friends. Then I decided to stay here since [the PKK] aims [to make us leave here],” Selim said.
“Teachers are never appreciated in this country. So, the effects of terror are reflected on us; [the state] does not protect us,” Selim said.

Selim said the PKK wanted the people in the region to remain ignorant since they knew ignorance triggered “terrorism.”

“We, as teachers, are following our path by giving priority to education and brotherhood. Most of the students are of Kurdish origin, and each one is like my own child. We do not side with separatism. We can only win over these children by not committing any discrimination. They are all brilliant kids, we need to protect them,” Selim said.
More security measures needed

Selim also said they were naturally worried about recent abductions, adding that they often traveled to neighboring villages during the day to guard against kidnappings.

Ekrem, another teacher who has been working in Van for three years, demanded the immediate increase of security measures.

Ekrem said most of his students were the children of Kurdish families that were victims of last year’s powerful earthquake.

“Some of them lost their families after last year’s earthquake. And they are now living in containers. Despite all the difficulties, they are all brilliant and successful. Terrorism aims to deprive these children of education, and we will never let this happen,” Ekrem said.

Another teacher, Reşat, who has been teaching in Van for two years, also said he was worried about security measures.

“Abduction cases have increased. I doubt whether the security measures taken are sufficient,” Reşat said.

Suspected members of the PKK have been abducting teachers and firebombing schools ostensibly as part of a campaign to demand Kurdish-language education.

Schools to be protected

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

During the Kızılcahamam meeting over the weekend, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced special security teams would be assigned to protect schools in eastern Turkey, daily Zaman reported yesterday.

“The Education Minister was at the Kızılcahamam camp, so there is no need for an order from the Prime Ministry. The negotiations with the Security General Directorate on that matter are ongoing,” deputy secretary of the Education Ministry Tarık Çelik told the Hürriyet Daily News. “If governors demand it, we may assign İşkur personnel after giving them security training, but there is no order covering the whole of Turkey yet.”