2016-01-15 Abant İzzet Baysal University
On January 15, 2016, counter-terrorism units reportedly conducted raids on the offices and homes of three scholars from Abant İzzet Baysal University who had signed a petition calling on the Turkish government to end its crackdowns targeting Kurdish rebels in the southeastern part of the country. The authorities reportedly seized computers and mobile phones, and briefly detained the scholars, Professor Barış Kılıçbay, instructor Ülkü Güney, and Associate Professor Selime Güzelsarı.
The petition, signed by 1128 scholars from 89 Turkish universities, as well as more than 300 scholars from outside the country, demands an end to fighting between Turkish forces and members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It accuses that the government of the “deliberate massacre and deportation” of civilians, and calls on the government to allow independent observers into the region, end curfews, and renew peace efforts.
Following the publication of the petition on January 11, 2016, public authorities placed all of its 1128 Turkish signatories under investigation. Since that time, many of the scholars who signed the petition have reportedly faced criminal, as well as professional retaliation.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about detention, raids and seizure of personal property of scholars in response to the nonviolent exercise of the rights to academic freedom, free expression and free association, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. Where they are a part of a widespread pattern, such incidents have a profoundly chilling effect on academic freedom, undermine democratic society generally, and may represent a grave threat to higher education on a national scale. State and university authorities have an obligation to comply with internationally recognized standards of academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association, as well as due process and fair trial.
This is an update to an earlier report. To view, please click here