Onur Hamzaoglu, a professor of epidemiology and co-spokesperson of the People's Democratic Congress (HDK), was detained with 16 others on February 9 on warrants issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. According to the warrants, those arrested were suspected as members of the terrorist organization PKK/KCK based on their social media activity protesting Turkey’s ongoing war in Northern Syria (Operation Olive Branch). On February 16 Hamzaoglu was arrested on charges of terrorism.
Professor Hamzaoglu had faced investigations and public harassment previously. When he released findings in 2011 on the relation between industrial pollution and the cancer-related deaths in Dilovasi, an industrial zone between Istanbul and Kocaeli, Kocaeli University, where he was a faculty member at the School of Medicine, opened a disciplinary investigation against him, and he was affronted by Kocaeli's mayor. After the attempted coup in 2016, Hamzaoglu was dismissed from his position at Kocaeli University via a statutory decree. Today, he is under custody for demanding peace.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide deplores and condemns the ongoing detention, persecution, and conviction of Onur Hamzaoglu and calls upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to protest and condemn this arbitrary incarceration; to call for his immediate and unconditional release; and to urge the officials of the Turkish government to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights as specified in international conventions and treaties to which Turkey has long been a signatory.