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Urgent Call for Solidarity with Academics in Turkey (Letter to the US Department of State)

[Image via change.org] [Image via change.org]

[This letter was written by a group of US-based scholars and educators and was released on 22 March 2016.]

Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights
US Department of State
Email: tmalinowski@state.gov

Dear Mr. Malinowski:

We are a group of US-based scholars and educators who have grown deeply alarmed and shocked by the blatant violations of human rights to which our academic colleagues and counterparts in Turkey have been subjected under an increasingly authoritarian Turkish government.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government, supported by some university and other high-level officials, continue to use violent and illegal methods to oppress political dissent in Turkey. In January, President Erdoğan accused 1,128 academics of treason for signing the Academics for Peace petition, a statement calling for an end to war and protesting the massacre of civilians in the country’s Kurdish region as well as the Turkish state’s ongoing violation of its own laws and international treaties. Since then, hundreds of academics who signed the petition have been subjected to disciplinary and criminal investigations, detentions, and suspensions from their jobs. Our colleagues Esra Mungan (Boğaziçi University), Muzaffer Kaya (removed from office at Nişantaşı University) and Kivanç Ersoy (Mimar Sinan University), signatories of the petition who planned to start an academic vigil, have been arrested and charged with terrorism. Esra Mungan was very recently placed in solitary confinement. As of 15 March, approximately 723 others have been detained by the police or put under administrative or legal investigation. Chris Stephenson, an academic who is a UK citizen and long-time resident of Turkey, has been threatened with deportation and was subsequently deported.

This wave of state coercion constitutes the most recent episode in the repression of human rights that the Turkish establishment is practicing not only against critical academics, but also against journalists, lawyers, public intellectuals, and Kurds from all walks of life. An appeal to “Stop the Persecution of Academics for Peace in Turkey,” circulated by the advocacy group Change.org and addressed to European MPs and MEPs, had received 2,000 signatures by 18 March 2016. Yet the group reports that, to date, the Turkish government has ignored its call to respect the principles of academic freedom and, on the contrary, “the witch-hunt against the Academics for Peace” intensifies.

As university professors, researchers, educators, and students, we are not only strong adherents to the rights of peaceful free expression, speech, and assembly guaranteed in the US and Turkish Constitutions and in many international human rights documents. We also firmly believe that the right to free, peaceful dissent and debate is the bedrock of any institution of learning, even more so in times of international crisis. Some of us have participated in antiwar protests at our universities—against the wars in Vietnam, Central America, and Iraq—and helped to show how open debate helps to strengthen, not weaken, democratic institutions and societies. But these fundamental rights and principles are being trampled in Turkey today, making peaceful dissenters the victims of military policies and geopolitical conflicts.

We realize that Turkey is an ally of the United States and the European Union and is currently in a strong bargaining position due to its role in the war in Syria and the Syrian refugee crisis. Yet these geopolitical considerations should not be allowed to exonerate the Turkish government from living up to its human rights obligations or to prevent the US Government from registering a strong complaint against Turkey’s violations of its citizens’ basic rights.

Specifically, we ask the US State Department to call on the Turkish government immediately to stop the persecution of Academics for Peace, respect academic freedoms, free the arrested academics (Mungan, Kaya, and Ersoy), and reinstate with compensation all the academics suspended or expelled during the persecution campaign. We know your office is committed to making respect for human rights an integral part of the pursuit of peace, security and diplomacy, as you have in enforcing the Leahy Law in Turkey, Colombia, and elsewhere. We thank you for whatever you can do in this urgent case to protect the rights of academics who speak out against military injustice. We look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter.

cc: Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, US Department of State
John Bass, US Ambassador to Turkey

Sincerely,

LIST OF SIGNATORIES

Name Title / Affiliation (for identification purposes only)

Rosalind Petchesky Distinguished Professor Emerita of Political Science / Hunter College & the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)
Jean E. Howard George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities / Columbia University
Charlotte Bunch Board of Governors Distinguished Professor & Women's and Gender Studies / Rutgers University
Ammiel Alcalay Professor / Queens College / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Öykü Tekten PhD Candidate / English Department, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Ellen Ross Professor Emerita of History and Women’s Studies / Ramapo College of NJ
Temma Kaplan Distinguished Professor of History / Rutgers University
Lorie Novak Professor / New York University
Arnold Aronson Professor / Columbia University
Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg Brown University
Meredith Tax Writer
Evelyn Lincoln, Professor / Brown University
Poulomi Saha Assistant Professor, University of California-Berkeley
Lynne Joyrich Professor, Brown University
Leticia Robles-Moreno PhD Candidate / Performance Studies, NYU
Anthony Alessandrini Professor of English / Kingsborough Community College, and Middle Eastern Studies, CUNY Graduate Center
Erik Ehn Professor / Brown University
Bonnie Honig Nancy Duke Lewis Professor / Political Science and Modern Culture and Media
Andreas Huyssen Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature / Columbia University
Adi Ophir Professor / Brown University
Paula Chakravartty Associate Professor / MCC and the Gallatin School, NYU
Ryan Tracy PhD Candidate / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Judith Butler Maxine Elliot Professor / University of California, Berkeley
Lina M Fruzzetti Professor / Brown University
Linda Gordon University Professor of Humanities and Florence Kelley Professor of History / NYU
Alyson Cole Associate Professor / Political Science, Queens College & the Graduate Center, CUNY
Conor Tomás Reed PhD Candidate / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Nicole Gervasio Ph.D. Candidate / English Department, Columbia University
Chelsea Haines PhD Candidate / Art History / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Micheal Angelo Rumore PhD Candidate / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Barbara Spackman Professor / University of California, Berkeley
Susan Buck-Morss Distinguished Professor / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Meena Alexander Distinguished Professor of English / Hunter College & the Graduate Center, CUNY
David Harvey Distinguished Professor / The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Amanda Anderson Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities / Brown University
Dean Schafer Master’s Student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Tamar Katz Associate Professor of English / Brown University
Drew Walker Brown University
Marc Redfield Professor of Comparative Literature and English / Brown University
Tracy Riley Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies / New Jersey City University
Soyoung Yoon Assistant Professor of Art History & Visual Studies / The New School
Zachary Lockman Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and of History / New York University
Patricia Catrillo Administrative Assistant / New Jersey City University
Laura Rita Feola Adjunct Instructor / Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY
Murat Cem Mengüç Assistant Professor of History / Seton Hall University
Maya Mikdashi Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies / Rutgers University
Benoit Challand Associate Professor / Sociology, New School for Social Research, New York
William Keach Professor of English / Brown University
Elizabeth Sanders Professor / Cornell University
Bruce Robbins Columbia University
Dominic Wetzel Assistant Professor of Sociology / Kingsborough, CUNY
Alex S. Vitale Associate Professor, Department of Sociology / Brooklyn College, CUNY
Frances Fox Piven Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Political Science / Graduate Center, CUNY
Paisley Currah Professor / Political Science, Brooklyn College & The Graduate Center, CUNY
John R. Wallach Professor of Political Science / Hunter College & The Graduate Center, CUNY
Kyle Wanberg Clinical Assistant Professor / New York University
Evan Applegate Master’s Student / University of Wisconsin–Madison
Joyce Gelb Professor Emerita / City College and Graduate Center , CUNY
Scott Dexter Professor of Computer and Information Science / Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center of The City of New York
John McMahon, Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Jason Nielsen PhD Candidate & Adjunct Lecturer / The Graduate Center, CUNY, Queens College
Makeba Lavan PhD Candidate / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Mohammed Rafi Arefin PhD Candidate / Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kristin Moriah PhD Candidate / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Karl Steel Associate Professor/ Brooklyn College, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Emrah Yildiz, PhD Candidate, Harvard University
Nicholas Glastonbury PhD Student / Anthropology, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Amy Hughes Associate Professor / Brooklyn College
Dominic Pettman Associate Dean and Professor of Culture and Media Chair / Liberal Studies, The New School
Anwar Shaikh Professor and Chair / Department of Economics, New School for Social Research, The New School
Sean M. Kennedy PhD student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Shoumik Bhattacharya English PhD Student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Mary Catherine Kinniburgh PhD Student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Nick Micinski PhD student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Daniel Golebiewski PhD student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Theodor Maghrak PhD student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Drake Logan PhD Student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Danya Al-Saleh PhD Student / Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Maryam Ivette Parhizkar Doctoral Student / Yale University
Eileen A. Joy Founding Director / punctum books; Director, BABEL Working Group
Matthew Evangelista President White Professor of History and Political Science / Cornell University
Ozan Baytas PhD Student / Brown University
Heather Rosenfeld, PhD Student / University of Wisconsin-Madison
Keith Woodward, Associate Professor / University of Wisconsin–Madison
Charles Shepherdson Professor of English / State University of New York at Albany
Chris Crews PhD student / The New School for Social Research
Ethel Brooks Associate Professor / Departments of Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology, Rutgers University
Soheil Asefi Graduate student / Politics, The New School for Social Research (NSSR)
Helene Silverberg Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Science / University of California, Berkeley
Uday S. Mehta Distinguished Professor of Political Science / Graduate Center, CUNY
Joan Copjec Professor / Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Kevin Aportela-Flores, MA Student, The New School for Social Research
Stephanie R. Golob Associate Professor / Political Science, Baruch College & the Graduate Center, CUNY
Jason Frank Professor of Government / Cornell University
Elizabeth Bidwell Goetz Doctoral Student / The Graduate Center, CUNY; Instructor, Hunter College
Velina Manolova Doctoral Candidate / The Graduate Center, CUNY; Adjunct Instructor, Baruch College
Rahel Knöpfel Postdoc / Leibniz Institute for Atmospheric Science, Kühlungsborn, Germany
Luke A. Hingtgen Graduate Student / DePaul University
Tristan Mantel-Hoffmann Doctoral Candidate / Pol Sci, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Tyler Coburn Part-Time Faculty / The New School
Frances Bernstein Associate Professor / Drew University
Ilan Benattar Graduate Student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Ilker Aslantepe PhD Student / The New School for Social Research
Clio Unger PhD Student / The Graduate Center, CUNY
Dorrie Mazzone Political Science Faculty / Diablo Valley College
Irving Leonard Markovitz Professor of Political Science / Queens College and Graduate Center of CUNY
Eli Nadeau Politics Graduate Student / The New School for Social Research
Elizabeth Hennessy Assistant Professor / History and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Tonya M. Foster Assistant Professor / California College of the Arts; Doctoral Candidate, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Robert Bell Doctoral Candidate / NYU
Tanya Agathocleous Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
Kristin Booth Glen University Professor and Dean Emerita / CUNY School of Law
Naomi Schiller Assistant Professor / Brooklyn College, CUNY
Oz Frankel Associate Professor of History / New School for Social Research
Jonathan H Shannon Professor / Department of Anthropology, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
Anais Wong PhD Student / Political Science, Graduate Center, CUNY
Eric Nost PhD student / University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ahmed Kanna Associate Professor / School of International Studies, Univ. of the Pacific
Robert Sember Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts / Eugene Lang College, The New School
Iliana Cepero Adjunct Professor / Eugene Lang College, The New School
Victoria Sanford Professor & Chair / Department of Anthropology, Lehman College; Director, Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies; Doctoral Faculty, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Karine Taché Assistant Professor / Department of Anthropology, Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY.
Obioma Ebisike The New School / New York
Katherine Verdery Distinguished Professor of Anthropology / City University of New York Graduate Center.
Mandana Limbert Associate Professor / Department of Anthropology, Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
Antonia McMaster PhD Student / Clinical Psychology, City College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
Sujatha Fernandes Professor / Department of Sociology, Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
Elizabeth Weed Brown University
Stephen Steinberg Distinguished Professor of Urban Studies / Queens College & Graduate Center, CUNY
James Loop Adjunct Instructor / Brooklyn College, CUNY
Cecilia Rubino, Assistant Professor of Theater / Lang College, The New School
Suad Joseph Distinguished Professor / University of California, Davis
Karl Britto Associate Professor / University of California, Berkeley
Omnia El Shakry Associate Professor of History / University of California, Davis
Miriam Gabriel MA (Goddard) / MA Student in Middle Eastern Studies at CUNY Graduate Center / Arabic Instructor at Hunter College
Zachary V. Sunderman Ph.D. student / Sociology, The New School for Social Research
Christopher Stone Associate Professor/Hunter College of the City University of New York
Caroline McKusick PhD student / Anthropology, University of California Davis
Philippa Strum Professor Emerita of Political Science / CUNY.
Carl Sack PhD student / Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Linda Williams Professor Emerita/Film and Media/Rhetoric, U.C. Berkeley
Todd Sekuler Doctoral Candidate / Institüt für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Fatin Abbas Visiting Assistant Professor / Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY
Paul L. Wachtel, Distinguished Professor, City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Center
Aaron Botwick Doctoral Candidate, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Sheehan Moore PhD student / Anthropology, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Arman Azimi Doctoral Student, The Graduate Center, CUNY 

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