Petition: Solidarity with Turkish Academics suffering state persecution

The following is an open letter from the international academic community in support of our Turkish colleagues, prepared by Science for the People. Please feel free to add your name using the form here.

We, the undersigned academics, condemn the ongoing persecution by the Turkish government of our colleagues in Turkish universities. We stand in solidarity with the signatories of the 2016 Peace Petition entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” denouncing the government’s violations of human rights in the Kurdish provinces. Charged with spreading “terrorist propaganda”, these academics now face the threat of years of imprisonment for criticizing state violence. Their prosecution is a dangerous attempt to silence the voices of those who would defend peace, and a grievous breach of the principle of academic freedom. We call for the termination of the trials and the reinstatement of academics to their university positions. We echo the call from our Turkish colleagues for academics to show their solidarity by joining delegations to Turkey as international observers at the trials and by sending financial support.

The petition was signed by 1128 academics in January 2016 and made the following demands: that the state’s military assault on its citizens should cease, including ending the current regime of deportations and curfews; that access to the targeted areas be granted to independent national and international observers; and that negotiations should resume to secure a lasting peace, incorporating the demands of the Kurdish national movement. Those who signed the statement have come under sustained attack from the state. They have been placed under investigation, imprisoned, put into solitary confinement, dismissed from their employment as professors and students have been expelled from universities.

Most recently, several signatories to the petition have been brought before the Istanbul High Criminal Court, charged with producing and disseminating “terrorist propaganda”. If convicted, these academics face up to seven and a half years of imprisonment. As of December 2017 charges have been filed against at least one in ten of the signatories. Indictments have been brought against the academics on an individual basis by the Istanbul Public Chief Prosecutor’s Office and the court hearings are distributed over several months, in a clear bid to quash a united resistance by dissidents speaking with one voice.

We regard this latest assault on dissent as further evidence of worrying authoritarianism in Turkey, and we admire those who speak out for democratic values and the rights of minorities. We believe it is of the utmost importance that academics, and all those who champion freedom of thought, stand together in solidarity when speech is curtailed by the power it seeks to criticize. It is not only the liberty of the accused that is now at stake; free inquiry and robust debate, the pursuit of peace and the possibility of a less repressive future are all on trial in Turkey. We stand with the defendants.

The original 2016 petition can be found here: https://barisicinakademisyenler.net/node/63

The latest updates from Academics for Peace can be found here: https://barisicinakademisyenler.net/

To learn more about Science for the People visit https://scienceforthepeople.org/

Lila Abu-Lughod, Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science, Columbia University

Ad Aertsen, Member Of Leopoldina, German National Academy Of Sciences, Professor Of Neurobiology And Biophysics, University Of Freiburg, Germany

Philip Anderson, Nobel Laureate (Physics 1977), Princeton University

Peter Balakian, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Colgate University

Marlene Behrmann, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, University Professor Of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

John Boothroyd, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor, Stanford University

Bill Bowring, Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London; Barrister of Gray’s Inn

Wilfried Brutsaert, Member of the National Academy of Engineering, William Lewis Professor of Engineering, Cornell University

Jed Buchwald, MacArthur Fellow, Dreyfuss Professor of History, Caltech

Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Mark Cane, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, G. Unger Vetlesen Professor (Emeritus), Columbia University

Kipp Cannon, Associate Professor, University Of Tokyo

John Carlson, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, Higgins Professor Of Molecular, Cellular And Developmental Biology, Yale University

Daniel Carpenter, Member of the National Academy of Public Administration, Allie S. Freed Professor of Government, Harvard University

David Ceperley, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Founder Professor of Physics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Martin Chalfie, Nobel Laureate (Chemistry 2008), University Professor, Columbia University

Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, Columbia University

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor (Emeritus), MIT; Laureate Professor, University of Arizona

John Collier, Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology (Emeritus), Harvard Medical School

Jonathan Crary, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Columbia University

Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Seth Darst, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Jack Fishman Professor, Laboratory Of Molecular Biophysics, The Rockefeller University

Aniruddha Das, Professor of Neuroscience, Columbia University

Miriam Diamond, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Professor, University of Toronto

John Dowling, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, Gordon and Llura Gund Professor of Neurosciences, Harvard University

Vladimir Drinfeld, Fields Medalist (1990), Professor Of Mathematics, University Of Chicago

John Dugard, Emeritus Professor of Public International Law, University of Leiden

Dan Fagin, Pulitzer Prize Winner (General Nonfiction, 2014), Professor of Journalism, New York University

Rachel Giora, Professor of Linguistics, Tel Aviv University

Nigel Goldenfeld, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Swanlund Endowed Professor of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Fred Gould, Member of the National Academy Of Sciences, University Distinguished Professor of Evolutionary Biology, North Carolina State University

Norma Graham, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Centennial Professor, Department of Psychology, Columbia University

Victoria de Grazia, Moore Collegiate Professor of History, Columbia University

Willy Haeberli, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, Professor Of Physics (Emeritus), University Of Wisconsin-Madison

Michael Harris, Professor of Mathematics, Columbia University

Marianne Hirsch, William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate (Chemistry 1981), Professor Emeritus, Cornell University

Jean Howard, George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

Andreas Huyssen, Villard Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies and Literature, Columbia University

David Klein, Professor of Mathematics, California State University Northridge

Malcolm Levitt, Fellow of the Royal Society, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Southampton

Lydia Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

David Lloyd, Distinguished Professor of English, University of California Riverside

David Lobell, MacArthur fellow, Professor, Stanford University

Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate (Economics 2007), Professor Of Economics And Mathematics, Harvard University

Brinkley Messick, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

Ken Miller, Professor of Neuroscience, Columbia University

Timothy Mitchell, William B Ransford Professor of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, Columbia University

Rosalind Morris, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

David Mumford, Fields Medallist (1974), MacArthur Fellow, University Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics, Brown University

Frederick Neuhouser, Professor of Philosophy and Viola Manderfeld Professor of German, Barnard College, Columbia University

Ilan Pappe, Professor of History, University of Exeter

Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology, Professor, Anthropology & Gender Studies, Columbia University

Bruce Robbins, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

David Rosner, Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Sociomedical Science and Professor of History, Columbia University

Randy Schekman, Nobel Laureate (Physiology/Medicine 2013), Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Michael Shadlen, Professor of Neuroscience, Columbia University

Tim Shallice, Fellow of the Royal Society, Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London

Stephen Smale, Fields Medallist (1966), Professor of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Kyoto Laureate (Art and Philosophy 2012), University Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

Jack Szostak, Nobel Laureate (Physiology/Medicine 2009), Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Karen Van Dyck, Kimon A. Doukas Professor of Modern Greek, Columbia University

Harold Varmus, Nobel Laureate (Physiology/Medicine 1989), University Professor, Cornell University

Kathy Barker, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Washington
David Hoffman, PhD, Physics, Emory University, Atlanta, USA
Ben Allen, Organizer, Science for the People
Ciaran Kohli-Lynch, PhD Student, University of Glasgow & Columbia University
Rasigan Maharajh, Professor Extraordinary, Stellenbosch University
Aziz Choudry, Associate Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University
Luca Manuza, Researcher, (URIT) Suor Orsola Benincasa University, Naples
Alan Goodman, Hampshire College
Hillary Streit, Lab Technician, University of Michigan
Odag Özen, Professor of Psychology, Touro College Berlin
Rachel Koh, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Lafayette College
Allison Mickel, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University
Naomi Goodman, Masters Student
Ben Jahre, Research & Instruction Librarian, Lafayette College
Jamie Bemis, Mechanical Engineer and City Planner, Science for the People member
Luis Schettino, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Lafayette College
Stacey Sexton, Graduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst