Turkey : Threat to Academic freedom


Recently in Turkey, more than 1100 Turkish scholars have been placed under investigation after they signed a petition calling on the government the restoration of national peace in the Kurdish Southeast region. Following the publication, signatories have been arrested charged with terrorism, and related crime, and suspended or forced to resign their position.

More than 1,200 academics from 90 Turkish universities calling themselves “Academicians for Peace”, as well as foreign scholars, signed the petition calling for an end to the violence. Entitled “We won’t be a party to this crime”, the petition urges Ankara to “abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other people in the region.”
The Education International’s General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen and the Chairperson of the European Student Union (ESU), Fernando Galan, sent today a protest letter to the President of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan :

EI/ETUCE and ESU are appalled and dismayed by the recent terrifying reports on the official reactions to the action of more than thousand academics who signed an open call for peace. In that petition, the scholars had criticized the Turkish government for its exceptionally harsh approach taken in the Kurdish region in South-East Turkey. The Turkish Higher Education and Research representatives asked the government to end the ongoing violence and to resume negotiations on the peace process with the Kurds.
It is deplorable and undemocratic to an unacceptable degree that in response to this action, the government has apparently not only detained some signatories of the petition but it has also branded the scholars as traitors. EI/ETUCE and ESU are deeply concerned by this obvious setback for the freedom of expression in Turkey. There seems to be no limits to the government’s vigorous actions against anyone who takes a critical stance against the current course of the government.
With this letter, EI/ETUCE and ESU express full solidarity with all those academics who now suffer from the unjustified repression following their appeal for peace. EI/ETUCE and ESU also unanimously support the demand towards the Turkish authorities to end the violent conflict with the Kurdish people in Eastern Turkey and to re-establish and stabilise public life instead. In this context, it is of particular importance to us to ensure that schools can immediately resume normal operations and compensate as good as possible for the resulted disadvantages in education.”