Solidarity campaign for the academics of Turkey
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As we witness from afar the purges that have been taking place in Turkey, we, the academic community of Greece, vehemently condemn these acts. We also want to raise the urgent question: What shape can solidarity take at such difficult times?
Even if this question may not have a straightforward answer, it is imperative to raise our voices against the Turkish government’s unprecedented and unjustified persecution of members of the academic community, including research assistants, PhD students, and professors.
Since July 2016, more than 7,000 academics from more than 110 Universities have been dismissed. Among those academics, nearly 400 were dismissed for having signed a petition for peace in South-Eastern Turkey. These dismissals have accompanied a ban on undertaking any other public work, as well as passport cancellations disallowing people from leaving the country. Many academics were deprived of their academic promotion, if not temporarily detained and others ended up in jail where not even lawyers have access to any information about their cases or the accusations. Ultimately, these arbitrary measures produce an environment of constant fear concerning who will be targeted next and when, where and how the persecution will take place. Many people from Turkey are seeking asylum abroad and find themselves faced with the dilemmas and difficulties of having to choose between a life in constant fear and life in exile. This situation has also led to at least two suicides of academics, that of Mehmet Fatih Traş from Çukurova University and Mustafa Sadık Akdağ from Ordu University.
The many personal stories that exist behind these numbers should remind us that voicing solidarity in such difficult times is extremely necessary. Indeed, this situation is particularly acute in, but not limited to Turkey, since we are also witnessing the “neutralization” of critical academic ideas worldwide, as well as the constant undermining of academic independence, which cannot be separated from freedom of speech, the right to assembly and the overall upholding of civil rights. In this local and international context, we ask the pressing question: Why do universities become once again the target of neoliberal governmentality, authoritarian regimes, and austerity measures? But also, what kind of academic knowledge do we aspire to see taking place in the public sphere and what kind of critical thinking should be promoted, or (re)generated, in such times?
Following the example of our colleagues in different parts of the world, we urge our colleagues in the Greek academic community:
• to stand in solidarity with colleagues in Turkey who are under attack from their government and the police; to continue to express solidarity publicly and expand social awareness (by organizing public talks, workshops, conferences, etc.), and to persist in defending academic freedom
• to provide institutional support for dismissed and threatened Turkish academics through visiting scholarships, emergency programs, and other similar means
• to urge national governments, international organizations, and private institutions to fearlessly hold the Turkish government accountable for its persistent violations of human and civil rights, academic freedom and the rule of law.
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