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Endangered Scholars Worldwide Urges Support for Turkish Higher Education

January 25, 2017

As the sixth month of the emergency rule ends in Turkey, the Turkish government does not seem willing to end the witch-hunt, which dismissed more than 120,000 civil servants -including nearly 7000 academics- their jobs, and shut down 15 of 193 universities across the country, since the failed coup attempt in July 2016.

 

 

The war against academics in Turkey began long before the coup attempt. On January 10, 2016, a group of scholars calling themselves Academics for Peace signed an open letter calling on the Turkish government to end its unlawful and violent practices in the Kurdish provinces. The next day, the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the letter’s organizers and 1128 signatories of treason and terrorist propaganda, calling for their immediate punishment. The Turkish judiciary system subsequently initiated public prosecutions under Turkish anti-terror laws, alleging defamation of the Turkish state and accusing signatories of spreading “terrorist organization propaganda.” Turkey’s Higher Education Council (YOK) ordered university rectors to commence disciplinary investigations. In return, hundreds of academics were suspended by their affiliated institutions. Numerous suspensions, dismissals, and imprisonments followed. As of January 6, 2017, another 41 academics who signed Academics for Peace letter have been dismissed from their positions in several universities.

 

Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned with the future of academic freedom, scientific research, and higher education in Turkey. Thousands of academics have lost their jobs while hundreds among them had to leave the country seeking refuge. According to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, 100 to 150 of the signatories of the Academics for Peace letter fled to Germany. Given the most recent developments, ESW feels the need for highlighting the urgency of the situation of academic freedom in Turkey and to better picture the greatness of the purge in scale, and to show solidarity with thousands of Turkish academics who lost their jobs as a result of their peaceful activities and the exercise of their freedom of speech. Please click on the link to see the list of academics from Turkey who have been dismissed from their jobs with the latest decrees (January 6, 2017).

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