On behalf of Easdale Foundation for Labour Research (EMAR), we strongly oppose the recent ongoing attacks on academic freedom in Turkey.
More than 1,200 academics from 90 Turkish universities, “Academics for Peace”, signed a statement, “We will not be a party to this crime”, calling on the Turkish state to cease hostilities against its Kurdish citizens. Since the publication of this call for peace, these academics have been subject to a strong sustained campaign of abuse and violence from both the Turkish state and its supporters.
In recent speeches, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly denounced these academics, accusing them of “treason” and of forming a “fifth column” of foreign powers trying to undermine Turkey’s national security. Subsequently, prosecutors have begun proceedings to charge all 1,128 of the original signatories with “propagandising for a terrorist organization” and “overtly insulting the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Government of Republic of Turkey and the judicial organs of the state”. If convicted of these charges they could face 1-5 years imprisonment. Signatories have also been publicly exposed in the press and social media by government supporters and nationalists. Many of the signatories also face disciplinary proceedings and possible sackings from their institutions. Others have already been suspended or fired by their own university administrations.
Turkish state has a long and shameful history of mistreating and even murdering intellectuals, critical academics and journalists (since the time of Ottoman Empire). Recent campaign of intimidation by Turkish authorities against the signatories is yet another example of the growing intolerance for critical voices and the deepening authoritarianism of the Turkish state in the country with increasingly serious consequences for freedom of expression. This includes not only attacks against academics but also the continuing imprisonment and deaths of journalists, lawyers and activists. Right now, there are currently 32 journalists in prison for covering accurate news.
We call on the Turkish government to withdraw its prosecutions, immediately release all those imprisoned and commit to the principles of academic freedom and free speech. We stand in solidarity with these brave academics and pledge our strong support through the means available to us.
On behalf of EMAR