Other petitions formulated by colleagues for all university affiliated persons internationally to be circulated widely.
I. We the undersigned
We the undersigned are professors of Turkish Studies in North American and European Universities. Several of us head centers and programs of Turkish Studies. We work hard to generate interest and nurture open and engaging debates on contemporary Turkey. We are seriously concerned about the diminishing academic freedoms and especially criminalization of a petition signed by 1128 fellow academics in Turkey calling for peace. We declare that we stand in solidarity with their demand for peace and their freedom of expression. We can further Turkish Studies around the world only when academics in Turkey can express themselves freely.
On January 10th 1128 academics from Turkey and 356 from abroad signed a petition calling the Turkish State to return to negotiations. The petition attracted attention to the dire situation in the Kurdish regions of Turkey where since 16 August 2015 there have been ben open ended curfews in 7 cities effecting close to 1,5 million citizens. Hundreds of civilians including the children, babies, and the elderly lost their lives. In their petition academics urged the Turkish government to end violence and return to negotiations.
Following the release of the petition, President Erdogan attacked those who signed it and accused them with treachery. He said “pick a side. You are either on the side of the Turkish government or you are on the side of the terrorists.” Few short hours after the speech, Turkish Higher Education Council announced that it will start investigations against signatories. Academics who signed the petition are investigated under article 301 of the Penal Code and face possible charges for “inflaming hatred and hostility among peoples” and “denigration of the Turkish nation.”
Turkey is a signatory of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Based on these conventions and more importantly Turkish Constitution Turkey is required to protect freedom of thought, expression, association, and assembly. Yet, academic freedoms are regularly violated in Turkey. Since 2011 Middle East Studies Association sent 20 letters to Turkish government urging them to protect academic freedoms for different cases.
Criminalization of freedom of expression stifle productive debate on issues discussed in Turkey and around the world. Intellectual and academic production is not possible without academic freedom.
2. For Peace and Academic Freedom in Turkey -- invitation to all academics
for support. To add your name write:
email@example.com with a line indicating your name, academic title and institution.
As authoritarianism and militarism reached a new high in Turkey, a group of academics from Turkey (and beyond) launched a petition “ We Will Not Be Party To This Crime” (http://bianet.org/english/human-rights/170978-academics-we-will-not-be-a-party-to-this-crime) to state their opposition.
President of the Republic Recep Tayyip Erdogan (who is not the head of government but acts as such in violation of the Constitution of the country) slammed the academics for their protest (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-slams-academics-over-petition-invites-chomsky-to-turkey.aspx?PageID=238&NID=93760&NewsCatID=338) and the Council of Higher Education (YOK), which is a creation of the generals who led the 1980 coup and regulates all public universities, started an investigation about the petitioners. Many university administrators have already taken punitive actions against their faculty. Several of the petitioners were subject to house or office raids by the police and arrested. They are charged with supporting terrorism because their declaration did not criticize PKK (the Kurdish militant organization)!
Below please see the text of a petition. If you would like to support it please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with a line indicating your name, academic title and institution. Please forward this message to your colleagues and invite them to sign the petition. You may ask your academic institution or professional organization to sign the petition and post it on its webpage, as well.
As academics and university administrators who are committed to seeking knowledge and to the free dissemination of information, we are appalled by the repression, persecution and prosecution of Turkish scholars for simply expressing their concern about the growing violence within the country and specifically, the state aggression and illegal treatment of citizens in the Kurdish region of the country.
The call of our colleagues in Turkey for their government to respect national and international laws and reopen negotiations with the representatives of Turkey's Kurdish population (as well as to bring in independent observers to protect the human rights of the citizens of Turkey and investigate military operations in civilian areas) is a message of peace; it is intended to protect human life and property and to prevent further escalation of a conflict that threatens not only Turkey but the entire region.
We, the undersigned, extend our solidarity with our colleagues in Turkey and affirm their right, as citizens, seekers of knowledge, and persons of good conscience, to speak truth to power. We ask that the government of Turkey:
• cease the intimidation, persecution and prosecution of all those who have publicly expressed opposition to the current government's policies, including the signatories of the petition, “ We Will Not Be Party To This Crime”;
• reorganize the Council of Higher Education, a creature of the 1980s military regime, in order to enable it to operate as a truly autonomous organization to coordinate research and facilitate the functions of all institutions of higher education, beyond the control of political parties and the government;
• respect the country’s commitment to rule of law, democracy, and human rights, especially the freedoms of thought, expression and the press, which are protected in the Constitution of Turkey and the international treaties to which Turkey has been a party.
• restart the “peace process” with Kurdish representatives that the government aborted for political motives on the eve of the June 2015 election.
A letter could also be sent to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression requesting his intervention with the government. The link below gives all the info about the Special Rapporteur's mandate and where the letter should be sent:
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