Dear friends and colleagues,
As you know, three of our colleagues are still in prison. Assist. Prof. Esra Mungan from Bogazici University is under solitary confinement at the Bakirkoy Womens' Prison in Istanbul. Yesterday, she was transferred to another cell, which is smaller, filthier and stuffier, for no valid reason at all. Dr. Muzaffer Kaya (dismissed from Nisantasi University) and Assoc. Prof. Kıvanc Ersoy from Mimar Sinan University were transferred to the Silivri Prison a hundred kilometers away from the city center. The two academics at Silivri are also under solitary confinement. Each is made to stay alone in cells designed for three people. They are not allowed to see each other or any others. All their books were confiscated with the promise that they would be given back later. They are given nothing except for a pen and a notebook. They underwent naked search when they first arrived at Silivri and were kept naked for twenty minutes. We think that all of these measures are intended to intimidate academics and produce an atmosphere of fear.
A fourth colleague, Assist. Prof. Meral Camci (dismissed from Istanbul Yeni Yuzyil University), was abroad when the police came for her and hasn't come back to Turkey ever since. A fifth colleague, Chris Stephenson of Bilgi University, was first arrested and deported, but the ban on his return has been lifted. He is presently in Turkey where he's been living for the past 20 years.
Also, reports in mainstream media state that the prosecutor will ask for 1.5 to 7.5 years of imprisonment for these academics, who are charged of "terrorist propaganda" for signing a peace petition. They have been singled out among 1118 initial signatories for having organized a press conference on March 10 to reveal actions taken by universities against the signatories.
Another alarming development is the draft law prepared by the government to provide a legal basis for dismissing academics, depriving them of civil servant status and even retirement pensions, and giving the Higher Education Board (YÖK) the right to directly open administrative investigations against academics. Although a handful, some universities continue to resist the pressure to take administrative action against the signatories. Among them are Bogazici University, Sabanci University, Mimar Sinan University, and Galatasaray University from Istanbul.
Suggested solidarity strategies against this degrading treatment and unlawful arrest:
1) Spread the information among international academic institutions and media through opinion pieces, petitions, letters to high standing officials (US, EU, Turkey) and through social media.
You can use the following hashtags on Twitter to spread the word: #watchesforfreedom, #AcademicsForPeace
2) Cancel all conferences organized jointly with Turkish universities that have punished or pursued academics having signed the peace petition (cf. list attached).
Science-Po Paris (IEP) has cancelled a conference with Aydın University for dismissing a signatory professor:
3) Freeze all Erasmus, exchange or other academic agreements with Turkish universities that have punished or pursued academics having signed the peace petition.
4) Send letters and solidarity messages to the imprisoned academics at the following addresses:
Kıvanç Ersoy: Silivri Cezaevi 9 Numaralı Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Cezaevi C-1 Blok 6 Silivri, ISTANBUL
Muzaffer Kaya: Silivri Cezaevi 9 Numaralı Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Cezaevi C-1 Blok 4 Silivri, ISTANBUL
Esra Mungan Gürsoy: Bakırköy Kadın Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Bakırköy, ISTANBUL
I thank you immensely for the solidarity that you're demonstrating and I truly hope this nightmare will be over very soon.
Members of BAK
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