ECOLE DES HAUTES ETUDES EN SCIENCES SOCIALES
Repression against the Academics for Peace from Turkey
Wednesday April 13, 2016
2pm – 5.30pm
Amphithéâtre François Furet, 105 Bd Raspail, Paris F-75006
This conference will lead to the creation of an
Academics for Peace International Support Committee
Comité international de soutien aux Universitaires pour la paix
Barış İçin Akademisyenlerle Uluslararası Dayanışma Komitesi
With the participation of:
- International Work Group on Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey (GIT)
- Human Rights League - EHESS Section (LDH-EHESS)
- French Association for Political Science (AFSP)
- Academics and researchers from Universities Paris-Descartes, Paris 10, Paris 8, Paris 1, Strasbourg, etc.
Colleagues from Turkey will intervene live via electronic communication.
For many years in Turkey, the researchers, academics and students have been subjected to systematic violations of freedom of research and teaching. Since 2010, this repression has grown through an extensive use of the ‘anti-terror’ law: academics have been sued, tried and imprisoned, charged with ‘terrorism’ or ‘complicity of terrorism’. Eminent figures engaged in research and intellectual diffusion, such as the political scientist Buşra Ersanlı, a specialist of constitutional law, and the publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, have been preventively put in jail with the expectation of endless trials, thereby violating the elementary rights of those to be tried. In France and throughout the world, support was organized, in particular with the creation of the International Work Group on ‘Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey’ (GIT).
A new step in this criminalization of academics occurred when all 1128 signatories of a petition were charged with ‘terrorism’. The petition was launched on January 10, 2016 by academics, researchers, and intellectuals from Turkey, who declared that, as ‘Academics for Peace’, they would not be ‘a party to this crime’. They stated their opposition to the mass war operations led by the Turkish state in the regions of the country with Kurdish majority and where the PKK is waging an armed struggle. Siding with civil society and committed to its survival, the signatories consider that the duty of the government is to ensure the safety of the populations, not submit them to terror. They called for resuming of the peace process with the PKK, that has unilaterally been abandoned by the government thus reactivating a ‘30-years war’ against the Kurds from Turkey.
On January 18, 2016, a meeting was organized at EHESS to report on the threats that were immediately proffered against the signatories and the repression that followed. Numerous letters of protest as well as international petitions were launched, among them one from France (gitfrance.fr). More than 10 000 academics, journalists, filmmakers, unionists, members of liberal professions throughout the world have voiced publicly their support for the ‘Academics for Peace’.
On March 15, 2016, three academics signatories of the petition were arrested, charged by Istanbul Assistant Prosecutor with ‘propaganda for a terrorist organisation’; they had organized on March 10 a press conference. Esra Mungan (Bogazici University), Muzaffer Kaya (fired from Nisantasi University) and Kıvanç Ersoy (Mimar Sinan University) are imprisoned pending trial. On March 31, Meral Camcı (fired from Yeni Yuzyil University) was also imprisoned pending trial after her return from Paris. Moreover, the government has drafted a new bill providing that ‘academics who get involved in separatist claims or terror activities, or supporting such actions will lose their public office’.
On March 18, 2016, the 28 European heads of state and the Turkish Prime Minister signed an agreement stating that Turkey will keep within its territory the nearly three million refugees and migrants (under which living conditions?). In violation of asylum rights, the agreement also states that after April 4 any migrants setting off from Turkey and arriving to the Greek islands would be returned to Turkey. Moreover, the EU committed to ‘reinstalling’ one Syrian refugee from a Turkish camp for each Syrian refugee ‘returned’ to Turkey from Greece. The EU will give to Turkey three extra billion euros: in total 6 billion euros have been promised since November 2015. Tacitly, EU turns a blind eye on a repression that is inflicted in violation of human rights not only upon the Kurdish population but also upon academics, journalists, magistrates, lawyers, unionists etc. The aim of the Turkish government is to annihilate any contestation emanating from the civil society.
This mass repression of academic freedom is but one sign of a deeply worrisome situation of State violence in Turkey. The massive academic mobilisation growing throughout the world to support ‘Academics for Peace’ in Turkey allows for the creation of a Academics for Peace International Support Committee, which is the goal of the April 13, 2016 conference to be held at EHESS.