Oppose Turkish Persecution of Academics for Peace

I’ve been asked by a colleague to feature this Change.Org petition against persecution of academics in Turkey. Below is the full text with a link to where you can click to add your name. The deadline is March 17 at 6 PM Greenwich Mean Time, so please act soon! And thanks for your help and support.

If you are an academic or member of the media, please mention your affiliation when you sign the petition.


The Turkish government and the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continue to oppress political dissent violently and illegally in Turkey. On January 11, President Erdoğan accused 1128 academics of treason for signing  a call for peace in Turkey. In the call, the signatories stated that they would not be party either to the massacre against the Kurds or to Turkish’s state’s ongoing violation of its own laws and international treaties. Following Erdoğan’s speech, hundreds of academics who signed the petition were subject to disciplinary and criminal investigations, detentions and suspensions.

 In response to this witch-hunt, we had signed a letter in support of academic freedom in Turkey and asked for ending the prosecution of Academics for Peace. The letter was submitted to MPs and MEPs in Europe and published in the media in January.

 Yet the Turkish government did not heed the call for academic freedom and had intensified the witch-hunt against the Academics for Peace. As of 10 March 2016, the toll was as follows:

                                              Public Universities       Private Universities
Disciplinary investigations                 464                                43
Criminal investigations                      153
Detentions                                          33
Suspensions                                       27
Contract termination                           9                                   21
Forced resignations                            5                                    1

Furthermore, on 15 March 2016 three academics were incarcerated for signing the original call of Academics for Peace and announcing that they will start an ‘Academic Vigil’. The arrested academics are:  Esra Mungan of Boğaziçi University, Kıvanç Ersoy of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, and Muzaffer Kaya, formerly of Nişantaşı University.

A fourth academic and a UK citizen, Chris Stephenson of Bilgi University, was detained for holding a vigil outside the court in support of the three academics and for carrying a Newroz (Kurdish New Year) invitation from a parliamentary party – the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). On 16 March 2016, the case of Chris Stephenson, who has been resident in Turkey since 1991, was transferred to another court with the demand of being deported, and he had to leave the country.

We ask the international community and elected representatives to call on the Turkish government to stop the witch hunt against Academics for Peace, respect academic freedoms, free the arrested academics, and re-instate all the academics suspended or expelled during the persecution campaign with compensation.

Please click here to add your name.

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  1. Peter Pan

    President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is an out of control total nut job. If there’s a country truly in need of a regime change (military coup), it’s Turkey. I am amazed at the tolerance for his outrageous behavior by the EU, USA and NATO.

    I’ll sign any petition against Erdoğan.

    1. fajensen

      Why? Are we (the EU, NATO) not one of the US of A’s willing helpers in all manner of human rights violations?

      Rocks & Glass Houses …

      Turkey’s latest rounds of excesses barely make the news here; partly because “we” simpletons here don’t like to hear about problems that we don’t like having to deal with, partly because the EUSSR shall find a way to get Turkey included in The Club no matter how much of Erdogan’s shite the commission will have to eat and pretend to like, in order to pull it off.

  2. B1whois

    I signed it with this comment. Which is just kind of gibberish, but I hopefully will motivate my Facebook friends is sign as well.
    “Academia without intellectual freedom stifles education and humanity.”

    1. clinical wasteman

      I share the sentiment, and also just signed. But (although this may just be oversensitivity brought on by long neighbourliness with the thriving Turkish/Kurdish/Alevi left in this part of London) the neo-Kemalist judicial-military system since the 1980 coup wasn’t much better, at least until it was outdone by the hideous turn of the last 4 or 5 years. Before that, Erdogan’s was an ugly right-wing/real estate machine that sort of stood up to military/judicial sovereignty, briefly put bombardment of the (mostly) Kurdish east on hold, and owed some its popularity to (grand)standing up to Israel over the Mavi Marmara incident. During the brief “zero problems with our neighbours” period, then-foreign minister Davatoglu almost looked like one of the proverbial (& relative) “adults” in the geopolitical “room”. Though all the while they were pushing through EU-friendly neoliberal “reform” (not for nothing is Turkey a favourite testing ground for the post-cash economy), having already forced Iraq invasion involvement through a reluctant parliament with a ruthlessness that Blair et al must have envied. Perry Anderson is very good on this period in a chapter of ‘The New Old World’ (Verso, no online version that I know of). Anyway, to return to your point Vidimi, and to make a long story longer, I refused to go there under the generals’ managed democracy then finally felt able to visit when my London Turkish/Kurdish friends (and their German/Turkish/Kurdish friends & family) also started returning in the early years of the truce, but couldn’t see how to set foot there again now. Western media talk a lot about Erdogan as an aspirant Caliph, but by now he looks more like an old Young Turk, competing crime-for-crime with the exterminators of the Armenians for cynical ends of national aggrandizement.

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