Assistant Professor Halil İbrahim Yenigün was dismissed from his position at İstanbul Commerce University after a 40-day suspension for signing the Academics for Peace petition and the publication of a column by a government mouthpiece targeting him.
Yenigün, who is also the Foreign Relations Committee chairman of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER), was a part of the university's political science and international relations department prior to his firing.
The academic gave a statement on his Facebook page, saying, “Following a 40 day suspension due to my signature on Academics for Peace petition, I was terminated today right after being targeted by a notorious columnist-operative (political hit-man) for two consecutive days with two libelous pieces in one of the major newspapers.”
Cem Küçük wrote about the chair of the board of the university, İbrahim Çağlar, in his column published on Monday in the Star daily, saying he was allowing “the continuation of the pay and position of the academic who signed the report in support of the terrorist PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party].”
“He did not mention my name, but he referred to me in a libelous manner by calling me a PKK academic,” explained Yenigün explained to Today's Zaman in a phone interview, adding that it was “an outrageous accusation against me.”
Yenigün was employed by the university for four-and-a-half years and has been dismissed without any severance pay. “It would be ok if they just terminated me, but gave me my legal rights [severance pay]. It would be fine by me, I could understand that,” he stated.
Referring to Küçük's instigation of the situation, Yenigün said, “What he is encouraging the university to do is a crime.”
Yenigün is not the first academic to have lost his position as a result of the petition, as last week Assistant Professor Ekrem Düzen was fired from İzmir University. On Feb. 9, six academics were also sacked from Nişantaşı University. During the “Peace for All” meeting held at the Şişli City Cultural Center held in İstanbul earlier this month, academics quipped that they have gone from being the “Academics for Peace” to the “Unemployed for Peace” initiative.
On Jan. 10, 1,128 academics from 89 universities both in Turkey and overseas signed a statement titled "We will not be a party to this crime," criticizing curfews declared in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern districts and military operations there, saying the right to life and the freedoms of residents had been violated as a result of these practices.
Despite everything, Yenigün stated on social media, “We will continue to stick together for peace, justice and nonviolence at all costs.”
Read more about the crisis of highre education in Turkey