Over 1,800 academics from around the world have made a call for Academics for Peace, who have been dismissed from universities and have been facing imprisonment for having signed the declaration entitled “We will not be a party to this crime.”
Referring to Prof. Füsun Üstel, who is the first Academic for Peace whose 15-month prison sentence has been upheld by the court of appeal, the open letter of support signed by more than 1,800 academics has expressed “solidarity with the academics and students who are targeted by the regime in Turkey for exercising their freedom of speech and academic freedom.”
Written in the form of an open letter and launched on March 12, 2019, the petition is making a call to all academics from around the world “to use all available means to support them [Academics for Peace], including freezing academic collaborations with complicit higher education institutions and universities that deliberately target academic freedom.”
‘This verdict is a dangerous precedent’
Here is the full text of the open letter signed by more than 1,800 academics from around the world, including Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler:
“As members of academic communities around the world, we strongly condemn the sentencing of Professor Füsun Üstel of Galatasaray University in İstanbul to 15 months in prison.
“Prof. Füsun Üstel was charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” (Article No. 7/2 of Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law No. 3713), because she, together with over two thousand other academics in Turkey, signed the Academics for Peace statement “We will not be a party to this crime,” which criticized military actions in the Kurdish regions of the country.
“Of the 1387 hearings for signatories to the Academics for Peace statement to date, the cases of 141 academics have been decided. 102 of these academics were sentenced to 15 months; 15 academics to 27 months; 14 academics to 22 months; 5 academics to 18 months; and 5 academics to 25 months or more in prison.
“Of these decisions, 37 were appealed and Prof. Füsun Üstel’s is the first among them to be decided, thus serving as a dangerous precedent. 124 other signatories are currently awaiting their first hearings.
‘Freeze academic collaborations with complicit higher education institutions’
“We call upon the Turkish government to immediately suspend the trials of all signatories to the Academics for Peace statement ‘We will not be a party to this crime.’ We call upon the authorities to immediately exonerate Professor Füsun Üstel and the other 140 academics sentenced to prison for petitioning their government.
“We express our solidarity with the academics and students who are targeted by the regime in Turkey for exercising their freedom of speech and academic freedom and we call upon academics around the world to use all available means to support them, including freezing academic collaborations with complicit higher education institutions and universities that deliberately target academic freedom.”
Institution and group endorsements
In addition to more than 1,800 academics, including Noam Chomsky, Şeyla Benhabib, Steven Pinker, Judith Butler and Bruce Alberts, the following institutions and groups also support the petition:
Research Institute on Turkey, Academic Solidarity Network, Forum Transregionale Studien, Article 19, Global Freedom of Expression, Columbia University, Academics for Peace – North America, Academics for Peace – United Kingdom, California Scholars for Academic Freedom, PEN International, National Writers Union – UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO, English PEN, PEN America and Dansk PEN.
About the Trials of Academics
On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled “We will not be party to this crime” on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative.
With the participation of further academics, the number of academics who have signed the declaration has reached 2,212.
With the indictment issued by the Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt, lawsuits were filed against the academics on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article No. 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.
As of March 29, 2019, 563 academics had stood trial since December 5, 2017, all the 169 academics whose cases were concluded have been sentenced to prison. 121 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison; 7 academics to 1 year and 6 months in prison; 15 academics to 1 year, 10 months and 15 days in prison; 16 academics to 2 years and 3 months in prison; five academics have been sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison; three academics have been sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison; and one academic to 3 years in prison.