As academics who research and teach across various disciplines at universities throughout Europe and beyond, we are deeply concerned that in the previous weeks many Turkish academics, teachers and civil servants have been subjected to investigation and grave intimidation by state authorities. A number of Turkish academics have also been dismissed from their posts at Turkish universities. Amongst them, apparently, are academics who had signed a peace petition in January 2016 which called on the Turkish government to reopen peace negotiations with the PKK and to end state violence against the Kurdish population.
We cherish and defend the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression, and we believe there can be no progress in science and scholarship without respect for human rights. It is unacceptable that the Turkish government has taken punitive measures against Turkish colleagues of high international standing simply because they exercised their right to voice their concerns about the state’s use of violence for political ends.
Article 26 of the Turkish constitution grants all Turkish citizens the right to express and disseminate their thoughts and opinions, whether by speech, in writing or through the media, alone or collectively. Article 27 further grants everyone the right to study and teach freely, to explain, and disseminate knowledge of science and the arts, and to carry out research in these fields. The actions taken against our Turkish colleagues violate their fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms.
We ask you to do your utmost to stop any punitive or intimidating actions from being taken against the signatories of the Peace Petition of January 2016, and to ensure that the academics who have been dismissed from their positions be immediately reinstated. We call on the Turkish President, on the Turkish government, and on all government authorities to respect and protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of each and every Turkish resident and citizen.
Initiative Scholars for Academic Freedom
Im Namen aller Unterzeichner/innen.
Graz, Österreich, 23.09.2016 (aktiv bis 03.11.2016)