Turkey: New arrests of academics - ETUCE calls for action


According to current media reports [1], Turkish authorities have again arrested academics for their efforts to promote peace in their country. During the last weeks, Turkish teachers and academics have continuously been under pressure for their open engagement against the ongoing violence in the North of Turkey. ETUCE and ESU has already expressed their concerns on this matter.

University professors Ms. Esra Mungan and Mr. Muzaffer Kaya as well as the teacher Mr. Kıvanç Ersoy were arrested and accused for spreading “terrorist propaganda” when signing a petition against the continuous violence in the Kurdish areas. In the case of a conviction by the court in Istanbul they could face up to five years imprisonment.

Additionally media report that also British professor Mr. Chris Stephenson was detained and interrogated for his support to the arrested colleagues. With the arrest of a foreign teacher, the rigorous approach of the Turkish authorities against peacefully demonstrating teachers has definitely reached a new level.

Today, ETUCE’s director, Mr. Martin Rømer, sent a letter to the President of the Council fo the European Union Mr Donald Tusk and the President of the European Parliament Mr. Martin Schulz with the following message:

It is worrying that in Turkey everyone engaging for peace and expressing his opinion about the current violence in the country, puts himself to danger to be accused of terrorism. As a matter of fact, this problem particularly seems to affect teachers and academics. It also seems like Turkey is using its leverage in the refugee situation to clamp down on any person that uses his / her right to speak freely. This is why we urge you to pay attention to the current developments which pose a serious threat to democracy and the safeguard of human rights in Turkey and to do your utmost to help solving this intolerable situation. In essence I will urge you together with the Commission leadership to demand an immediate release of our colleagues from the prison in Turkey.

The ETUCE also asked its 131 member organisations, which have an overall 11 million individual membership of teachers, educational employees, researchers and university professor, to express solidarity and demand release of the academics.

Mr. Martin Rømer said :“It is simply unacceptable that in Turkey everyone engaging for peace and expressing his opinion about the current violence in the South East of Turkey, puts himself to danger to be accused of terrorism. [...] Teacher trade unions should continue to make intensive efforts to fully support theircolleagues in Turkey in defending the rights and interests of the teachers in their country!

ETUCE asked members organisations to take action addressing protest letters to the Turkish governmentand to raise awareness about the current case both to the Turkish Embassy in their respective country and to their own Embassy in Turkey as well as to their government. Additionally, ETUCE asked member organisations to express their support by using the following tags on Twitter: .

#AcademicsForPeaceAreNotAlone  #EsraMungan #KıvançErsoy #MuzafferKaya #ChrisStephenson

[1] RT News: https://www.rt.com/news/335738-british-scholar-arrested-turkey/
Radio Free Europe http://www.rferl.org/content/turkey-academics-arrested-terrorist-propaganda/27616332.html