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Turkey Sentences Three Peace Academics to Prison

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

The trials of Peace Academics, based on charges of terrorist propaganda, continue in the Istanbul Caglayan Courthouse. On June 13, 2019, hearings were held for seven academics in four different heavy penal courts, a specific type of court in the Turkish judiciary system that focuses on organized crime, crimes against state security, and terrorism. During the hearings, three of the seven academics received prison sentences.


Photo by Bianet


On Noemi Levy-Aksu's fifth court hearing at 27th Heavy Penal Court, the former lecturer of history at Bogazici University, whose contract of employment was unilaterally terminated by university administration in 2017 due to her involvement in the Academics for Peace initiative, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison without deferral. During her defense, Levy-Aksu repeated her previous statements in response to the accusations and rejected the sentence's deferral. Aksu’s lawyer stated that the ruling is not a legal but a political one and that they will take it to the court of appeals.


The 27th Heavy Penal Court also sentenced Bogazici University PhD student Şenay Çınar and Istanbul Bilgi University research assistant Belin Benezra to 15 months in prison; the imposition of the sentence has been postponed for both Çınar and Benezra.


Since the beginning of the Academics for Peace trials on December 5, 2017, 623 academics have had court hearings. As of June 13, 2019, 199 of the 623 have been sentenced to prison, 36 of which have been without deferral. Trials will continue in multiple cities until the end of the judicial term and will then be resumed in September.


Endangered Scholars Worldwide expresses solidarity with the thousands of Turkish academics facing criminal charges as a result of their peaceful activities and the exercise of their freedom of speech. We condemn the Turkish government’s actions, which irreversibly harm the entire educational community by undermining universities’ abilities to meet scientific and ethical standards as well as to fulfill intellectual, educational, social, and institutional responsibilities.