Updated: May 1, 2019
On August 8, twenty professors who previously signed the declaration entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” were suspended from their academic positions at Anadolu University.
Ugur Kara of the Law Department commented, “As the dismissals against the Gülen Community are ongoing, they [the Higher Education Board] are intending to involve us, whom they consider a threat or divert people’s attention away.”
Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned over recent reports of the plight of the Turkish academic community. Since the days following the attempted coup, we have received numerous reports that Turkish officials have taken harsh measures against universities and other educational institutions of higher education. Universities are being shut down, and faculty and administrators are being taken into custody and denied the possibility of leaving the country.
The war against academics started long before the attempted coup. On January 10 of this year, a group of scholars named the Academics for Peace signed an open letter asking the Turkish government to end its violence in the Kurdish provinces. The next day, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the signatories of treason and called for their punishment. The Turkish judiciary system initiated public prosecutions under Turkish antiterror laws, alleging defamation of the Turkish state and accusing signatories of spreading “terrorist organization propaganda.” Turkey’s Higher Education Council (YÖK) ordered university rectors to commence disciplinary investigations. Numerous suspensions, dismissals, and imprisonments followed.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide condemns the detention of and professional retaliation against academics and human rights activists in Turkey in response to their exercise of the rights to academic freedom, free expression, and free association, conduct that is expressly protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both to which Turkey is party. The ongoing tensions in Turkey have a profoundly destructive effect on academic freedom and represent a grave threat to higher education on a national scale.
We urge Turkish officials to honor their constitutional obligations to protect the institutional integrity of universities and the freedoms of scholars and academics.