Peace Scholar Stranded in Turkey Despite Acquittal of Charges

On June 29, 2020, Tuna Altınel, mathematician at Lyon-1 University in France and a signatory to the Academics for Peace letter, informed the Turkish public that despite his acquittal of all charges in January 2020, the Turkish authorities have not yet reauthorized his passport. Having stated how his right to work and his freedom of movement are compromised under the given circumstances, Altınel required a lawful resolution or at least an explanation from the Court of Appeals, where he took his case for judicial review in February 2020. However, the COVID-19-related countrywide precautions, which were introduced in March, have put a halt to the review process. The current inertia of the Turkish authorities undoubtedly violates Altınel’s constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.

Photo by Bianet

Professor Altınel has been working at Lyon-1 University’s department of mathematics for twenty-four years. On April 12, 2019, his passport was cancelled and legal charges based on Turkey’s notorious Anti-Terror Law were filed against him. After the Constitutional Court’s landmark decision in July 2019, he was acquitted of all charges in January 2020 without any travel restriction imposed. American Mathematical Society (AMS), Conférence des Présidents d'Université1 (CPU), Committee of Concerned Scientists (CCS) have closely observed Altınel’s trial demanding his return to France, yet the international audience and attention did not suffice him to regain his freedom of movement. As of June 29, 2020, the Court of Appeals has not provided any response to Altınel’s plea.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide considers the situation of Tuna Altınel a flagrant and unjust violation of the freedom, security, and safety of scholars and students, and we deplore and condemn his forced settlement in Turkey. We call 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 confiscation of Altınel's and many other Peace scholars’ passports, and the restriction of their fundamental rights and freedoms. We call for the immediate release of his passport and reinstatement of constitutionally and internationally protected rights and freedoms of Altınel and other Peace scholars, and to urge the officials of the Turkish government to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights.

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