Workshop: "Research on Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey" organized by GIT France
Dates of the workshops, held at EHESS, 105 bd Raspail, 75006 Paris: January 27, 5-7 pm, amphithéâtre ; February 3, 5-7 pm, amphithéâtre; February 24, 5-7 pm salle n° 8; March 23, 5-7 pm, salle 8; May 11, 5-7 pm, salle 8; conference: June 22, 9:30-5 pm, amphitheatre.
January 27 : The Dangers Facing the Freedom of Publishing with Hamit Bozarslan:
“After Belge, What future for Independent Publishing Houses in Turkey ?” (Hamit Bozarslan)*; “Edition Belge After the Incarceration of Deniz and Ragip Zarakolu” (Cengiz Cagla); “The Case of Edition Ithaki and the Manuscript of Journalist Ahmet Sik on the Gülen Organization” (Emine Sarikartal)
*To be presented at the June conference.
February 3: To be a Student in Turkey Today : Conditions of Research, Conditions of Existence. Presentation by Ferhat Taylan and others. Topics include: TODI (Student group in support of imprisoned students); Project of GITinitiative’s letter to those imprisoned.
February 24 : Conference-Debate with Pinar Selek :
Pinar Selek, socialogist and feminist, persecuted in Turkey, exiled in Germany and in France. Additional presentations by Etienne Copeaux.
March 23 : Büsra Ersanli: Professor, Researcher, Intellectual in Turkey : Presentations by François Georgeon and Emmanuel Szurek.
May 11: Autonomy in the Intellectual Field :
Presentations by Emmanuel Szurek and Nicolas Camelio (1930s – 2000s).
June 22 : Conference and Round Table: Systems of Power and Control of Intellectual Freedom in Turkey. Precise program to be announced.
Report on the first working seminar of GIT France« Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey», January 6, 2012, EHESS, Paris, France
Report from the first workshop, January 6, 2012. Posted on www.gitfrance.fr on January 20, 2012, includes program for workshops January – June 2012
The majority of the session was devoted to discussing possible actions in favor of academic liberty and freedom of research in Turkey as well as the development of the workshop sessions and the conference to be held June 22, 2012:
1) Information on colleagues and students imprisoned in Turkey; current threats; possible actions of solidarity; the organization of a platform of information and information gathering.
The discussion focused on ways to know the identities of those detained: professors, researchers, investigative journalists, students, translators, and publishers. It was established that GITFrance will not be able to establish this list on its own, even counting on help from other branches of the GIT initiative; for certain categories of prisoners (journalists, professors, ..) professional associations or NGOs (like Amnesty International) already exist and do, to our knowledge, a very good job. We will need to contact them and discuss if there is a way to increase their efforts. However, there is a real problem of information and absence of associations for imprisoned students [aside from TODI in Istanbul].
Along these lines, it was decided that the GITFrance would create a sub-group who would concentrate on the situation of the students imprisoned in Turkey (email: email@example.com ). This subgroup “Students in Turkey” will also handle the drafting and sending of letters from GIT to the imprisoned students in Turkey (with material help from GITFrance members) - whose answers will be a valuable collection of documents that could provide material for study of these students persecuted. [Publication of these letters or reports will depend on permission from their authors]. This subgroup [has lead] one of the workshops entitled "Being a student in Turkey today: Research conditions, living conditions "(see below for details). The activity of this sub-group will be to produce a first-hand knowledge on the situation of the students, to establish a specific corpus of students detained, convicted, or formerly held, and to help coordinate similar initiatives in other branches of GIT.
2) Reflection on the GITinitiative, its strengths, its limitations. The issue of document monitoring, collection and distribution.
Emphasis was placed on the importance of the type of action initiated by the creation of GITinitiative, namely an academic and scientific approach. Distribution of this action of research will be helped by mobilizing Turkology journals and disciplinary associations such as the French Association of Political Science, [the latter has already been mobilized by Yves Deloye] to organize panels or conferences on these topics of academic liberty and freedom of research. The workshops of GITFrance [Jan. 27 and Feb. 3] have already participated in this action [please see program below]. The strength of GITinitiative’s actions will not be as “national actions,” but as a part of an international community of researchers. This definition of GITinitiative is an asset in mobilizing public opinion through the media and international organizations - giving them confidence in the actions of researchers who provide new and legitimate knowledge and will allow "denationalized" actions.
In regards to the distribution of information and research to the public, the site international site www.gitiniative.com currently serves as a stable source of general information [in English] and as a working tool with the online publication of texts and data archiving. Those who are responsible for the other GIT branches may use the site to post announcements, research findings and other information relative to their branches’ activities. [To submit information to be posted on the international site, in English, please submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also, the global page for GIT on Facebook:
GITFrance’s website, www.gitfrance.fr functions in the same manner.
Report on the second working seminar of GIT France« Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey», January 27, 2012, EHESS, Paris, France
Topic: Dangers Facing Independent Publishers in Turkey
The session began with a briefing on the situation of editors, lawyers and professors in Turkey and continued with debates concerning various practical matters. It emphasized some of the difficulties of Belge publishing house after the arrest of Ragip Zarakolu and Deniz Zarakolu: for example, volunteers for practical tasks would be useful for them (we will inform GIT-Turkey about this need).
In Turkey, Sirri Onder (a BDP deputy) has raised the possibility of writing a letter to YOK (National Council of Universities) to demand the release of students. As students have been excluded from progressing in their studies (as well as losing their student status in their universities), it was emphasized that some students arrested, including Busra Beste Onder, have had the right to take their exams in prison, while others have not.
The health status of Ragip Zarakolu and Busra Beste Onder, the former with heart problems and the latter with brain lesions, is aggravated by the conditions of their detention.
The debate opened with the importance of working with lawyers (specialists of Turkish law) regarding issues concerning the ongoing trials. The possibility was discussed of contacting organizations such as Amnesty International, etc., which have the legal skills needed to enhance the level of expertise on these issues.
GIT France may contact the Turkish Association of Political Science, which is to host the Congress of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) in Istanbul in 2016. GIT France would also contact the IPSA in regards to recent events and encourage the Association to accept that the Congress be held dependent on the conditions of freedom of research in Turkey.
A proposal was made that GIT France write a letter to different Turkish ministers concerned in this situation, as well as to the Council of Europe.
The second part of the session focused on the case of Ahmet Sik's book entitled "The Army of the Imam," which was confiscated by police before being released in March 2011. During the discussion it was emphasized how this case illustrates the impossibility of closing off the Turkish civil society (censorship is largely bypassed on the web) on the one hand, and how, on the other hand, attacks on freedom of expression and research began before the KCK operations, creating a continuity of the Ergenekon trials. (GIT France is developing a research group focusing specifically on this issue of continuity between the Ergenekon trials and the KCK operations in terms of legal violations and the use of police-justice-media intimidation of public opinion).
The paper devoted to “After Belge, What Future for Independent Publishers in Turkey?” will be presented during the colloquium on June 22.
Third Session of GIT France’s Workshop, February 3, 2012 “To be a Student in Turkey Today: Conditions of Research, Conditions of Existence”
The third session of the GIT France’s Workshop: "Research on academic liberty and freedom of research in Turkey" was devoted to the situation of students in Turkey and particularly of those charged and imprisoned by the enforcement of the anti -terror laws and on the actions of TODI (a student group in Turkey). This session was an opportunity for a fruitful exchange of information and discussion, prior to launching research on these issues.
The general statement that called the meeting reported that 500 students (this is an estimate) were currently in prison, within the scope of the Anti-Terror Law. They were arrested and prosecuted for acts of free speech that have nothing to do with terrorist activities, for example: boycotting the canteen of the university because it was too expensive; being a member of the [legal] BDP party; requesting free education; and denouncing corruption in certain financial services. However, it is difficult to know the precise facts for which these students were arrested, a confidentiality clause applies systematically with the anti-terror legislation.
Frequently, students are held in continuous detention while they are awaiting their trials, which are often perpetually delayed. In certain cases, these detentions have gone on for two or three years. In addition, students in high security F-type prisons are not guaranteed to be able to continue with their university exams and often lose their student status. This situation exists because some university administrations (as well as public opinion and even some family members), have taken the perspective that being arrested and incarcerated is equivalent to proof of guilt, and furthermore guilt of terrorism. The prevention of continuing their studies deprives students of their status, their freedom, their future, and of course, compromises their career paths.
The university support is rare [aside from associations formed by certain professors and students]. The rectors and university presidents are appointed by the new YOK, which imposes draconian regulations and exercises disciplinary measures on the students, who are already under the threat of arrests and trials. Many students are expelled from their universities. Two cases were mentioned in the newspaper Radikal: at Denizli University, a student was expelled for two months for asking for a democratic constitution; at Marmara Unversity, another student was expelled for a semester for criticizing the president of the university. The application of the guidelines YOK is often done with a terrible zeal.
Following this discussion, the group, Initiative of Solidarity with detained students (TODI) was presented. A member of the GIT France who was recently in Istanbul explained its creation and forms of action. This is a group created spontaneously, in October 2011, after a new wave of arrests (contemporary with those of Busra Ersanli and Ragip Zarakolu). It is composed largely of students, united around a common concern, that of providing legal assistance, material support, and solidarity with the imprisoned students. The group has received support from academics, activists and human rights lawyers. The member of the GIT France, who met the organizers, saw a highly organized group. One of the goals sought is that of increasing the awareness of the public (through, for example, petitions, organizing courses outside prisons, expressions of support - including the February 20 anniversary of the arrest of Cihan Kirmizigül, information to journalists, and launching the campaign "Do not touch my student"). Subgroups have been formed to monitor the trials, do analysis of the cases, and to take care of press relations. Requests are made so that observers may attend the trials.
The debate then turned to various points in connection with the two presentations: the threats made on the human rights and ethical rules of justice by the anti-terror law and its uses; the crackdown on the lawyers themselves; the mobilization of parents, families, and friends of the arrested students; the finding of a strong de-politicization in Turkey associated with the understandable phenomena of fear; the attempt to establish the exact number of students arrested and their identification (counts registered address 120 to 150 students, far from the estimated 500); and any dissent within the AKP government or party (the Deputy Prime Minister recently presented some criticism of the anti-terror law, including the part associating "propaganda for terrorism" with the act of terrorism).
The point was made regarding the need to create in GIT France a subgroup of researching criminal law and justice in Turkey. This could include analyzing the documentation of the European Court of Justice to which Turkey is regularly condemned for not respecting the European Convention of Europe that it has signed. This subgroup should also contact the lawyers who have followed the Hrant Dink trial and the activities of IHD could also be considered. The effectiveness of foreign observers at the trials was emphasized, however, applications must pass through the embassies, and currently, French demands seem to be rejected.
Following, the initiators of the action to send a letter to all students, academics, editors, and translators, currently imprisoned for exercising their freedom of expression, presented the text of the letter, in Turkish and in French. This letter is to be sent on behalf of GIT initiative, it is necessary to send a text proposal to all members of GIT (internationally) [This has already been done, 02/22/12). It is not certain that the imprisoned students will attest to their conditions of detention and conditions of their arrest, except perhaps indirectly, metaphorically, etc…The letter invites them to address "all topics you would like to share." We must remember that if the letters to prisoners actually arrive at their destination, and if sending letters from prison is authorized, this correspondence is always read by authorities. The letter from GIT is [also] a way of informing the administration that there exists an international solidarity around the detainees as well as breaking their sense of isolation. The letters could be sent in manuscript or printed form, and sent with a sender's first name to personalize them.
Lastly, the new GIT Turkey was announced.
The branch of GITinitiative in Turkey was created after the first attempt by Cengiz Cagla and continued with the commitment of Füsun Ustel along with Zeynep Gambetti. GIT Türkiye is already working with the union Egitim-Sen. They also wish to get in touch with the Foundation for History, etc… Public participation by students was not encouraged, as it was deemed too dangerous. It was noted that Busra Ersanli was informed of the existence of GIT Türkiye and was very happy of the news.
The inaugural declaration of GIT Türkiye, closely matching the terms of GITinitiative’s inaugural declaration, was signed by over 350 colleagues, and signatures continue to arrive.
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