The government-led witch hunt targeting the peaceful opposition in Turkey has cost two more academics their jobs. On March 27, 2017, Isik University (Istanbul) announced the dismissal of two of its faculty members, Sinan Birdal, assistant professor of international relations and Middle East studies, and Nese Yildiran, professor of humanities and art history. Reportedly, the university administration asked Yildiran and Birdal to remove their names from the Academics for Peace petition, and fired them when they rejected to fulfill the request. With the dismissal of Birdal, the total number of those who have been purged since July 15, 2016, will add to 7,318.
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.”
Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the harsh measures the Turkish government has taken against universities and other institutions of higher education, and its systematic targeting of the country’s scholars and professors, since the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply distressed by 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 fulfill intellectual, educational, social and institutional responsibilities