The Middle East Studies Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) calls on MESA members to respond to an unprecedented assault on academics and academic freedom in Turkey. Last week a group of 1128 Turkish scholars (together with over 355 academics outside of Turkey) signed a petition for peace in the Kurdish regions of the country. In the wake of its publication, President Erdoǧan criticized it in a public address, and called the signatories “traitors”. Within a day of this speech several universities initiated punitive measures against faculty who had signed the “Peace Petition,” and several signatories, at both public and private universities, have reportedly been removed from their positions solely for signing the petition. On 14 January, the Istanbul Public Prosecution Office launched a criminal investigation of ALL the signatories of this petition under Article 301 of the Penal Code and Article 7 of the Anti-terror Law alleging “terrorist organization propaganda.” Since then arrests, threats of physical violence and death, as well as other serious forms of intimidation against the signers have escalated dramatically. MESA’s CAF will continue monitoring and reporting on the situation and we call on our members to offer any form of support possible to colleagues who have come under attack as part of this campaign in Turkey. Please distribute this message through your networks and ask others to assist with getting the word out.
See CAF’s Letter to Turkish Prime Minister concerning Turkish Higher Education Council`s condemnation of a peace petition signed by academics as "terrorist propaganda" triggering a series of disciplinary investigations at various universities, and initiation of criminal investigations, against signatory faculty members.