In January 2016, 2,212 scholars from Turkey signed a petition titled “We will not be a party to this crime,” also known as the Peace Petition. Since then the signatories (“Academics for Peace”) have been subject to heavy pressure and persecution. Hundreds of them have faced criminal and disciplinary investigations, custody, imprisonment, or violent threats. Several academics have been dismissed or suspended, some were forced to resign or leave the country. The recent dismissal of the Academics for Peace overnight with a fait accompli of a State of Emergency decree no. 672 by September 1 marks a different level of the process facing the signatories.
Since the press conference publicizing the declaration on January 11, 1128 signatories were prone to prosecutorial investigations, 4 signatories were arrested and one signatory was taken under custody for deportation. Some of those scholars also experienced arbitrary treatments such as custody, search in their houses and offices and even bans on leaving the country. A total of 91 signatories lost their jobs either by forced resignations and retirements or non-renewal of their contracts. Hundreds of signatories faced disciplinary investigation at their universities, cancellation of administrative duties, jury memberships, fellowships received as well as their national appointments under the Teaching Staff Training Programme (OYP) and any appointments abroad. The disciplinary investigation files of 44 signatories from 21 universities (18 public and 3 foundation/private universities) were sent to CoHE (Council of Higher Education), with the demand to “dismiss from public office” with 25 files pending in process for the decision at Higher Disciplinary Board at CoHE. Moreover, the process is also evidently targeting a wider group of scholars such as 611 scholars who signed the petition for “freedom of expression” for supporting Academics for Peace against all suppressive actions and scholars/researchers with experience in 1980 coup as dismissed from public service with the law no.1402 (known as “1402s”) who expressed their solidarity as well.
The assaults facing us as demanders of peace have been transformed and intensified in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt on July 15. Many signatory colleagues have been dismissed from universities in various ways within the suppressive context of the state of emergency rule. We witness several suspensions from work as well as non-renewal of the contracts from different universities across the country. Indeed, the custody orders issued for signatory colleagues under the pretext of purging Gulen affiliated public servants and collective suspensions from work during investigation at Anadolu, Batman and Adiyaman universities have already alarmed for dissemination of the suppression and dismissals targeting signatory scholars. Finally, the dismissals by the decree no. 672 on September 1 marked a more severe process. The decree “punished” 44 Academics for Peace who pioneered freedom of expression very timely in the context of war by “banning from public service at all and preventing their employment in any academic or public institution in the country” even without any notice about the accuse or taking their statements!
The massive harassment and smear campaign against signatories have evolved with the arrest and imprisonment of four signatories in March. The subsequent phase of the process marked with their release as a result of the sound solidarity is now replaced with a new phase with the dismissals by the decree.
The suppression towards Academics for Peace targets academia and freedom of thought!
The disciplinary investigations undertaken by the university administrations and prompted by political will despite the decision by the Constitutional Court do not have any legal basis. The 8th Chamber of Council of State accepted the request for a stay of execution with respect to the rules of procedure, but decided for applicability of Law no. 657 on Civil Servants which is even against the Constitution of 1980 Coup. In this respect, it is evident that we need to sustain our solidarity throughout the process.
The draft law proposal on CoHE recently submitted to the Parliament envisages that CoHE would become in charge of sole and ex officio investigating institution for all academic staff. This would imply a purge of academia and academic professions in case that draft is enacted. The destruction prompted by war and disseminated towards academia would expand and lead to total elimination of critical thinking and freedom of expression from universities. This would imply an expansion of security zones, hundreds of which were already declared in conflict regions, towards academia and an absolute oppression for scholars in charge of producing knowledge based on research evidence.
In recent years, there has been an accelerating process of detachment from secularism, democracy and autonomy at the universities. The scholars who not only defend university education as a qualified public service domain but also actualize these values by professional practices have been prone to discharge by various ways. Indeed, the divergence of the universities from universal values, scientific principles and public purpose is synchronized with precarization of academic professions. The policies deepening the penetration as well as expanding the hegemony of the capital to the universities is simultaneous with the occupation of dogmatic and non-scientific ideas, activities and staff over academic domain.
Academics are fundamentally responsible for being responsive to the problems facing the society, humanity and nature, unfolding the less visible and voicing the less heard. The recent experience in Turkey disables scholars from conducting research, constructing proposals and expressing their opinions. This is unacceptable.
We are gathering in Ankara on September 22
We are gathering in Ankara on September 22 because we oppose to the war policies in Turkey and across the world, we defend right to life with our conscience on the basis of the knowledge and values by our profession and we stand by all of our colleagues who are prone to investigations and oppression.
We are in Ankara to name September 22 as a justice meeting as we say “No to Oppression and War in Academia and Turkey”, to demand for cancellation of all unlawful investigations and suspensions targeting scholars and researchers, to oppose to the attempts for enacting new CoHE legislation aimed at totally suppressing the academia, to demand for the cancellation of the decree no. 672 as a new instrument for the purge of scholars who side with democracy, peace and labour, to ask for non-renewal of the state of emergency on its due date as it constitutes a basis for such unlawful practices and to defend our profession, right to life and the fundamental values of the university!
Postponing the objection to the unlawfulness and injustice or keeping silent renders us as part of the injustice. We call everyone who defend peace and freedom of thought for solidarity and to voice the following demands in Ankara on September 22.
-The dismissals at the universities, undertaken partially but gradually becoming mass actions, should be stopped.
-The investigations and suspensions from work undertaken and utilized as tools of oppression towards Academics for Peace by university administrations since January should be cancelled; all sorts of threats, harassment and discrimination should be eliminated. Asking for peace is not a crime!
-Universities should have autonomous, scientific, secular and democratic structures and all sorts of policies towards universities should be terminated.
-The scholars who were dismissed by the decrees no. 672 and 673 despite their detachment with the failed coup should get reinstated to their positions with necessary legislative actions.
-The precarization of working conditions for the research assistants enrolled to Teaching Staff Training Programme (OYP) envisaged by the decree should be terminated and relevant articles in the legislation should be cancelled.
The state of emergency, which also constituted a basis for academic purge, should not be renewed on its due date.