There is an immediate threat to academic freedoms in Turkey. Day by day, we hear that dissident/socialist/Marxist academics are facing repressive procedures and enforcements from university administrations. Recent developments show that these are not exceptions, but are gradually becoming the rule. An anti-democratic, anti-unionist and yet market-friendly mind is shaping the path of Turkish higher education.
Recently, at the University of Ordu, a formal investigation has been launched for seven academics regarding their union activities, i.e. putting up a poster about their unions (Eğitim-Sen) stating that they want a university which would be in favour of Humanity, Society and Nature, or a poster against the new market-friendly law drafted by the Higher Education Council. The posters themselves were removed by private security forces when five of those seven academics were out of the city.
A prominent critical academic, Deniz Yıldırım of the University of Ordu, received a disciplinary punishment for his attendance and speech at a panel discussion in Ankara about the Higher Education Council’s new law draft. This punishment is the first of its kind for the academics who position themselves against the formation of the law. It gives us a clue about the implications for critical/dissident academics if this law passes in parliament.
This repressive behaviour is not limited to the University of Ordu. Recently two research fellows, Barkın Asal and Mehmet Cemil Ozansü at Istanbul University, have been subject to an official investigation launched by university administration for their speeches at a student demonstration concerning the proposed law – a law which will restructure universities fundamentally.
We fiercely condemn these authoritarian practices at the universities in Turkey. We are in solidarity with the academics who suffer from this repressive and authoritarian intimidation. Freedom of speech and unionization are democratic rights. University administrations should stop being an impediment to these rights and should stop censoring dissident academics.
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IDEAs or the International Development Economics Associates is committed to building a pluralistic network of committed researchers, teachers and other economists interested in advancing progressive heterodox approaches to critically analysing and addressing the problems of economic development processes.