Calls for Action on Behalf of Academics in Turkey

Updated: May 1, 2019

A group of scholars in the Turkish city of Mersin who openly criticized Turkey’s military crackdown on ethnic Kurdish communities are now feeling the government's wrath.

In contrary to all traditional practices and legislations, the Mersin University administration has cancelled three assistant professors contracts (two lecturers and one research assistant).

The scholars in Mersin are facing serious juridical accusations that were launched in relation to the Academics for Peace petition. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years' imprisonment on accounts of "propaganda against the government " and “insulting the Turkish government."

The ongoing lawsuits toward academics in Mersin are as follows:

1. The first case has been initiated against the assistant professors Hakan Mertcan, Mustafa Şener, and Selim Çakmaklı for the charge of “insult of the president” due to their Facebook posts.

2. Again due to social media messages, the scholars have been sued for “propaganda for the terrorist organization,” as well as “provocation of the people for hatred and hostility.” The hearing of the second trial in which research assistant Esin Gülsen is also accused will be held on July 12, 2016 in Mersin.

3. In addition to these two cases, the public prosecution office of Mersin has launched an investigation against Mertcan, Gülsen, and Çakmaklı on account of “insult of institutions and organs of the Turkish state” through Facebook posts. These academicians thus risk a third lawsuit.

4. Apart from Facebook posts, two of the petitioners, Şener and Güney, have been sued by the public prosecution office for violation of the law on meetings and demonstrations due to a public statement in which they participated. The hearing of this case will take place on the July 13, 2016.

5. Güney is also being sued for ungrounded charges related to being president of a charity organization supported by the Municipality of Akdeniz, which is governed by the proKurdish HDP.