On 21 May, the renowned Turkish Scholar Ayşe Gül Altınay was sentenced to two years and one month in prison for “aiding a terrorist organisation as a non-member”.
She is accused of being one of the more than 2 000 signatories of the 10 January 2016 declaration “We Will not be a Party to this Crime” of The Academics For Peace Group. The document accused the Turkish government of “deliberate and planned massacre” of the civic population in Eastern Turkey. While it called for peace and did not support or endorse violence or terrorism, several hundreds of the signatories have been pursued with legal action, suspended or dismissed from their positions, and subject to harassment.
Ayşe Gül Altınay is an internationally renowned cultural anthropologist, Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Centre at the Sabancı University. She is editorial board member of the European Journal of Women’s Studies and has been a visiting scholar at the Ruhr University Bochum and Columbia University. Her research work centres on the impact of violence in different social contexts.
In March this year, EUA reported on the trial of Professor Füsun Üstel of the University of Galatasaray, who was given the choice of a prison sentence or a suspended sentence of five years during which she was expected to refrain from committing further “crimes” (see EUA statement). Following an appeal, Füsun Üstel started serving her sentence in Eskisehir prison this month.
EUA is deeply concerned by the ever-growing pressures exerted on university autonomy and academic freedom in Turkey and calls on the Turkish government to respect and protect these fundamental principles. EUA reminds the Turkish government that it is a signatory to the 2018 Paris Bologna Communiqué, in which it committed to promoting and protecting academic freedom and institutional autonomy, and also the social responsibility and civic engagement of higher education institutions and their members. The Association, therefore, calls on the Turkish government to honour this commitment.