Istanbul Police detained at least 103 academics at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul on Friday and Saturday as part of the ongoing crackdown in the wake of the failed coup attempt. Police also searched the academics’ homes and offices, and the suspects were taken to a hospital for routine health checks before being given over to the Istanbul police headquarters, as Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Some academics were said to have been users of a smartphone messaging app called ByLock, which Ankara claims Gülen movement followers began using in 2014. Turkish prosecutors claim that ByLock is the top communication tool among members of the movement, which the government accuses of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt.
Critics have blasted the government for detaining thousands simply for using a mobile application.
Since July 2016, some 110,000 people have been dismissed or suspended in the civil service, army, and judiciary. 36,000 people have been jailed.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide Supports Academics Under Attack in Turkey
The war against academics started long before the attempted coup. On January 10 of this year, a group of scholars known as the Academics for Peace signed an open letter asking for 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 them to be punished. 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 is deeply concerned about 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 a 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 at Endangered Scholars Worldwide urge Turkish officials to honor their constitutional obligations to protect the institutional integrity of universities and the academic freedom of scholars and academics. We call on the United Nations General Assembly and member governments to put pressure on the Turkish government and express concern over the actions taken by officials against universities and higher education establishments.
Please join The New School, home of the original University in Exile and Endangered Scholars Worldwide, in calling on Turkish authorities to
cease their attacks on Turkish academics and universities;
free those who have been arrested without cause;
allow those who wish to travel freely outside the country to do so; and
make Turkish universities once again the havens of freedom of inquiry and free expression that all great universities must be.
Please appeal to the following:
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım
Office of Prime Minister
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Administrative Aide, Ozel Kalem Mudurlugu Fax: ++90 312 403 62 82
Public Relations Department Fax: ++ 90 312 422 26 67
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Cumhurbaşkanı (President of Turkey)
Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi Başkanı (President of the Turkish National Grand Assembly)
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Adalet Bakanı (Justice Minister of the Republic of Turkey)
Türkiye Yüksek Öğretim Kurulu (YÖK) Başkanı (President of the Council of Higher Education)
011 90 312 266 47 59
Turkish Ambassador to the United States
Fax: +1 202 612 67 44
Milli Eğitim Bakanı (Minister of National Education)
Atatürk Bulvarı No: 98 06650 Bakanlıklar Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 4188289, +90 (312) 417 70 27