Back to top

Dismissal of Academics for Peace members from their posts

Status: 
Dismissed from their posts
About the situation

On 23 September 2017, members of Academics for Peace who signed a petition called “we will not be a party to this crime” were accused of producing and disseminating “terrorist propaganda” in an indictment published by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The indictment has been accepted by the Istanbul High Criminal Court. If found guilty of these charges, the signatories will face up to seven and a half years in prison. The number of signatories accused is not yet known as the lawsuits are being filed separately.

About Academics for Peace

Academics for PeaceAcademics for Peace is a group that unites more than 2,000 individuals supporting peace in the south-east of Turkey. They are among the 1128 signatories of a petition released in January 2016 calling for an end to violence in the region. In the petition, the signatories said that they were condemning both the state violence against the Kurds and the Turkish state’s ongoing violation of its own laws and international treaties.

20 November 2017
Petition signatories accused of “terrorist propaganda”

On 23 September 2017, members of Academics for Peace who signed a petition called “we will not be a party to this crime” were accused of producing and disseminating “terrorist propaganda” in an indictment published by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The indictment has been accepted by the Istanbul High Criminal Court. If found guilty of these charges, the signatories will face up to seven and a half years in prison. The number of signatories accused is not yet known as the lawsuits are being filed separately.

Academics for Peace is an organisation founded in November 2012 which unites more than 2,000 individuals supporting peace in the south-east of Turkey.

According to the indictment, "[i]t has been revealed that the main purpose of the petition is to build public support to stop military operations which are carried out in order to secure the peace and safety of citizens and in order to clear areas where the PKK/KCK terrorist organisation has established elements of governmental control. On these grounds, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation [against the petition signatories] for ‘propagandising for a terrorist organisation’". The prosecutor has also argued in the bill of indictment that those who prepared the declaration had deliberately changed some expressions between the Turkish and English versions in order to garner more support from English speakers.

The petition in question condemns violent actions of the Government in south-eastern Turkey, which have resulted in numerous human rights violations. It was published on 11 January 2016 by Academics for Peace and signed by more than 2,000 academics both inside and outside of Turkey. Signatories called for the lifting of curfews imposed in the area, access for international observers to the region, and the opening of negotiations to “create a road map that would lead to a lasting peace which includes the demands of the Kurdish political movement”.

The first hearing will be on 5 December 2017.

1 September 2016
Dismissal of Academics for Peace members from their posts

On 1 September 2016, the Turkish government passed three new state of emergency decrees, which paved the way for the dismissals of more than 40,000 public empoyees, who were accused to have links with Fethullah Gulen. The Turkish government has blamed Fethullah's followers for the attempted coup on 15 July 2016.

Among the 2346 academics who were sacked there were also 44 members of the movement Academics for Peace, including professor Dr. Ümit Biçer, Member of the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and faculty member of the Forensic Medicine Department at the Kocaeli University.

Download the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Urgent Appeal (PDF)

The human rights situation in Turkey is rapidly deteriorating, with the government embarking on a massive crackdown on human rights defenders and on civil society following the failed attempt of the Turkish military to overthrow the government of President Erdoğan. The repression against the voices critical of the government and its policies has further intensified with the introduction of a state of emergency on 20 July 2016. In particular, Front Line Defenders is concerned about the severe restrictions on freedom of expression, speech and assembly introduced in the country, as these limitations can have a significant negative impact on the legitimate and peaceful work of human rights defenders in the country.

5 May 2016
Imprisoned academics released on bail

On 22 April 2016 a penal court in Instanbul released on bail four Turkish academics and human rights defenders who had been detained for more than one month.

Ms Esra Mungan Gürsoy, Ms Meral Camcı, Mr Kıvanç Ersoy and Mr Muzaffer Kaya were arrested on 15 March 2016 on charges of terrorism propaganda. They were detained after signing the “Petition for Peace,” a public declaration calling on the Turskish government to stop violent security operations in the country’s mainly Kurdish south-east region.

The prosecutor said the initial investigation was suspended, but he launched a second one on charges of “insulting the Turkish identity”. The next hearing is scheduled for 26 September 2016. The court did not drop the charges against the human rights defenders, who are facing up to seven and a half years in jail if convicted.

Front Line Defenders welcomes the release of Ms Esra Mungan Gürsoy, Ms Meral Camcı, Mr Kıvanç Ersoy and Mr Muzaffer Kaya, but expresses concern for the ongoing judicial persecution and it calls on the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against them.

15 April 2016
Call on foreign Ambassadors in Turkey to observe the first hearing in the case against Academics for Peace

On 11 April 2016, Academics for Peace published the following letter, addressed to the foreign Ambassadors in Turkey, inviting them to observe the first hearing scheduled for 22 April.

We, the Academics for Peace (Barış İçin Akademisyenler, BAK) are writing to you to draw your attention to the first court hearing in the case against four of our colleagues, Ass. Prof. Esra Mungan Gürsoy, Ass. Prof. Meral Camcı, Assoc. Prof. Kıvanç Ersoy and Ass. Prof. Muzaffer Kaya, which will take place on 22nd April, 2016 in İstanbul, Çağlayan Courthouse, at 2:00 PM.

Since 15th March and 31st March, 2016 respectively, the four have been held as pre-trial detainees, accused of "making propaganda of the terrorist organization PKK/KCK" under Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law. The indictment refers to a press statement which the four read out on 10th March 2016 and the original petition “We will not be a party to this crime”, which was signed by 1128 individuals and made public on 11th January, 2016.

Following the petition, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly targeted the signees as "a gang who name themselves as academicians", "so-called intellectuals", arguing that “the people who talk like the members of terrorist organizations are just the same as the members of terrorist organizations”. Most recently, referring to this trial, he publically declared that our colleagues should “remain in prison throughout the trial” as they were “guilty”.

Over the past months, his words have triggered a lynch campaign in local and national-wide mainstream and social media presenting a serious general and personal threat to the physical integrity of the signees, disciplinary instigations in a majority of the universities, dismissals and forced resignations, as well as detentions, house searches, and legal prosecutions against the whole group of signees. As an initial reaction , nearly one thousand more academics joined in signing the declaration, hence, now, the total number of signatories amounts to 2212.

The press statement read out by Esra Mungan Gürsoy, Muzaffer Kaya, Kıvanç Ersoy and Meral Camci on 10th March, 2016 was issued by BAK Istanbul to inform the public about precisely this unjust treatment against the signees of the original petition, especially about the administrative investigations and prosecutions. As a result, these four have been detained and an indictment has been prepared for them, while the investigations against the rest of the academics are progressively continuing. The indictment has been approved by the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penalty Court and the first hearing of the trial will be held on 22nd April, 2016. The accusation requires an imprisonment from 1,5 years to 7,5 years.

This trial is a clear breach of freedom of expression, and should not just be regarded as a case against the academics, but rather a trial against freedom of expression in the whole of Turkey. It should be noted that Turkey is already placed at the top with 300 applications to the ECtHR regarding violation of freedom of expression.

Hence, we would like to kindly invite you to be present at the court on the 22nd April, 2016, to observe the first hearing. We believe that your presence will not only give a strong sign of support for peace, democracy, and freedom of expression in Turkey, but will also have a positive effect on the fairness of the trial of our colleagues.

If you have any further question, please do not hesitate to contact us at any point in time.

Thank you in advance for your kind interest,

Academics for Peace

25 March 2016
Worsening conditions of detention of imprisoned academics for peace

On 15 March 2016, academics Ms Esra Mungan of Boğaziçi University, Mr Kıvanç Ersoy of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, and Mr Muzaffer Kaya, formerly of Nişantaşı University, were arrested on charges of terrorism and taken into detention pending an investigation in connection with their signing of the Petition for Peace, a petition calling for an end to violent actions by the Government in Turkey's south-east region. Esra Mungan has since been moved to a smaller cell in solitary confinement, while Kıvanç Ersoy and Muzaffer Kaya have been transfered from their original place of detention, subjected to ill-treatment, and also placed in solitary confinement.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

Esra Mungan, Kıvanç Ersoy and Muzaffer Kaya are members of Academics for Peace, a group that unites more than 2,000 individuals supporting peace in the south-east of Turkey. They are among the 1128 signatories of a petition released in January 2016 calling for an end to violence in the region.

On 24 March 2016, Esra Mungan was transferred from her original cell in Bakirkoy prison to a smaller cell with very poor hygienic conditions. She has been held in solitary confinement since her arrest. On the same date, Muzaffer Kaya and Kıvanç Ersoy were transferred to the Silivri Prison, where according to the information received, they were searched while naked, and then forced to remain naked for 20 minutes before being placed in solitary confinement. Books were also seized from them. Colleagues of the academics have began a vigil in front of both Bakirkoy and Silivri Prison.

On 14 March 2016, the three academics were brought before a prosecutor, who arrested them pending investigation for “propagating for a terrorist organization”. The investigation was opened after a speech given by the three academics at a press conference at the Education and Science Workers’ Union’s in Istanbul on 10 March 2016. During the press conference, the three stated their intention to continue their work, despite the repression and “legal and verbal war” which they claim has been initiated against academics following the release of January petition calling for peace in the Kurdish region.

On 21 January 2016, 27 academics were detained and accused of spreading terrorist propaganda, before later being released. On 14 January 2016, the Turkish Prosecutors office launched an investigation over possible charges against academics for insulting the state and engaging in terrorist propaganda. Several signatories to the Petition for Peace have been dismissed from their work, suspended, put under administrative and criminal investigation, and subjected to smear campaigns and physicals threats. On 12 January 2016, at a conference of Ambassadors, President Erdogan targeted signatories to the petition, stating: “Some people who call themselves academics defame Turkey for protecting its land and threaten the people in the region”. Turkey's Council of High Education (YÖK), a regulatory body of Turkish Universities, released a statement concerning the petition, which stated: “This declaration which supports terrorism cannot be associated with academic freedom. (...) We will do the necessary about this declaration within the scope of law.”

On 11 January 2016, the Petition for Peace was released, condemning the violent actions by the Government in the south-eastern part of Turkey, which have resulted in numerous human rights violations. Signatories called for the lifting of the curfew imposed in the area, access for international observers to the region, and the opening of negotiations to “create a road map that would lead to a lasting peace which includes the demands of the Kurdish political movement”.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Turkey to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Esra Mungan, Kıvanç Ersoy and Muzaffer Kaya, and close the investigation against them, as Front Line Defenders believes that they are being held solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Immediately cease all persecution, harassment and intimidatory acts targeting signatories to the Petition for Peace and academics in Turkey;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Turkey are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.