[The folllowing letter was issued by the American Anthropological Assosication on 17 January 2016 in regards to the ongoing repression of academics in Turkey]
January 17, 2016
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
Office of the Prime Minister Başbakanlık
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Via facsimile +90 312 417 0476; +90 312 403 62 82; + 90 312 422 26 67
We write as members of the American Anthropological Association’s Committee for Human Rights (CfHR) to express our grave concern over reports that the Turkish government`s public criticism of Academics for Peace has prompted governmental, political, and professional repression of academics throughout Turkey.
We understand that many anthropologists are among the people who signed a petition calling for an end to state violence against Kurds and for a return to peace negotiations. We also understand that the Turkish Higher Education Council and state prosecutors have begun investigations of the signatories to this petition, who are accused of supporting terrorism and are facing possible charges of treason. Further, as of the time of writing, reports indicate that more than 27 academics have been taken into custody. Some universities have reportedly begun proceedings to fire staff members who have signed the statement or are taking other punitive measures against them. We understand that a public atmosphere of intimidation and threat against academics is growing, with some calling for violence against them.
These actions violate both basic human rights and academic freedom. They obstruct the ability of these academics to conduct their research and fulfill other university-related duties. Crucially, these actions also violate several articles of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights to which Turkey is state party, in particular, the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of conscience.
Our Association has long been concerned with violations of human rights globally, including those of our professional colleagues. Respect for academic freedom cannot be divorced from the responsibility to protect, promote, and fulfill basic human rights. The repressive measures taken against these academics will also negatively impact international collaboration between Turkish scholars and US and European institutions and scholars, further isolating Turkish social science research from the world.
We ask that your government stop all punitive actions against the signatories of the Peace Petition and that Turkey observe the international human rights conventions to which it is legally bound, as well as norms of academic freedom essential in all democratic societies.
Jennifer Burrell, Ph.D.
Tricia Redeker Hepner, Ph.D. Jaymelee Kim, Ph.D. Benjamin Lawrance, PhD. Rebekah Park, Ph.D.
Kathleen Riley, Ph.D.
Alayne Unterberger, Ph.D.
Davutoğlu (17 Jan 2016) Page 2 of 2
• Hon. John Kerry (United States Secretary of State)
• Hon. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Cumhurbaşkanı (President of the Republic of Turkey)
• Hon. İsmail Kahraman, Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi Başkanı (President of the Turkish National Assembly)
• Hon. Bekir Bozdağ, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Adalet Bakanı (Justice Minister of the Republic of Turkey)
• Dr. Yekta Saraç, Türkiye Yüksek Öğretim Kurulu (YÖK) Başkanı (President of the Turkish Higher Education Council)
• Dr. İhsan Sabuncuoğlu, Rector, Abdullah Gül University
• Dr. Hüseyin Akan, Rector, Ondokuz Mayıs University
• Dr. Ramazan Kaplan, Rector, Bartın University
• Dr. Mustafa Inal, Rector, Akdeniz University
• Dr. Hayri Coşkun, Rector, Abant Izzet Baysal University
• Dr. Faruk Kocacık, Rector, Cumhuriyet University
• Dr. Murat Tuncer, Rector, Hacettepe University
• Dr. Nigar Demircan Çakar, Rector, Düzce University
• Dr. Ebubekir Ceylan, Rector, Hakkari University
• Hon. Barbara Lochbihler, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights
• Hon. Monika Kacinskiene, Member of the Cabinet of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
• Hon. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
• Hon. Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights