Magnitude of Harassment, Intimidation, Prosecution, and Repression to Peace Petition Signatories

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu 
Office of the Prime Minister
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Via facsimile +90 312 417 0476

Dear Prime Minister Davutoğlu:

We write on behalf of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America and its Committee on Academic Freedom to reiterate our serious concern over the disciplinary investigations and criminal prosecutions that have been undertaken against scholars who signed a petition for peace in the Kurdish regions of the country (“Peace Petition”). In our previous letter on this matter, dated January 14, 2016, we wrote in response to the immediate aftermath of a government-initiated campaign of intimidation against the signatories of the Petition following a speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan describing the signatories as “so-called academics” and “traitors.” Since we last wrote a broad pattern of persecution has emerged, encompassing suspensions and terminations of academics from positions at universities, detention, interrogation and prosecution of faculty members by over-zealous prosecutors, and a spate of threats and attacks against academic signatories by vigilante actors. This lamentable and worsening campaign of speech suppression leaves us no choice but to write to you again, adding to the growing international alarm at your government’s failure to protect the academic freedom, freedom of expression and even the physical security of the Petition signatories.

MESA was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa. The preeminent organization in the field, the Association publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has nearly 3000 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression, both within the region and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.

The pattern of speech suppression we document is a consequence, in part, of directives from the Higher Education Council (Yükseköğretim Kurulu, or YÖK), under the auspices of your government, demanding that public universities initiate disciplinary proceedings and other reprisal actions against signatories. With the expansion of YÖK’s regulatory authorities over private universities (itself the subject of our earlier letter to you dated January 7, 2016), many private universities, too, have preemptively initiated disciplinary proceedings, perhaps fearing that failure to do so might subject them to punitive action. These YÖK directives, in turn, have contributed to a permissive environment for private acts of violence targeting Peace Petition signatories with strong encouragement by pro-government media.

More alarming even than the YÖK directive are two additional developments that have come to light since we last wrote to you concerning the Peace Petition signatories. First, Circular 2016/4 published in the Official Gazette on February 17, 2016 indicates that all civil servants (presumably including public university professors and researchers) will be subject to disciplinary and criminal investigation should they be deemed to have joined, supported or propagandized on behalf of an organization designated “terrorist” by the government or organizations “using an apparently lawful front to conduct illegal activities” (legal görünüm altında illegal faaliyet yürüten). The breadth of this circular—including even lawful organizations that the government may later designate as having engaged in illegal activities—casts a shadow of potential criminality over the activities of public sector academics and researchers working on any aspect of political organizing in Turkey. The implications are especially chilling of all work concerning the Kurdish community in light of the government’s targeting of Kurdish organizations and activists as part of a very broadly defined anti-terror campaign. In short, the circular threatens to compound the campaign of prosecution and persecution against Peace Petition signatories by entrenching a policy of criminalizing pro-Kurdish opinion and expression by public university academics in Turkey. 

The second alarming development is the public revelation that prosecutors’ offices have sent letters to university administrators requiring that they furnish prosecutors with the names and identity documents of all Peace Petition signatories affiliated with their universities and that they enumerate actions taken against such signatories by the university. In light of the fact that the petition was published with a list of all signatories and their university affiliations, this request cannot be designed to gather information to which the government does not already have access from open sources. Rather, it appears designed to pressure universities to collect information and establish a record of disciplining any faculty, researcher or graduate student that signed the Petition. This kind of pressure on universities from government prosecutors goes even further than the YÖK directive in using the police powers of the executive branch to require punitive action against signatories by university administrators in addition to the criminal investigations initiated by the government.

The government-initiated campaign calling on universities to take action against signatories of the Peace Petition is not only a direct violation of academic freedom and Turkey’s international law obligations, it is also of dubious legality under Turkish law. As a Turkish Supreme Court decision in April 2015 (published in the Official Gazette on January 7, 2016) makes clear, YÖK does not have the constitutional authority to initiate academic disciplinary proceedings either under its own regulatory powers or under a separate law governing disciplinary proceedings for faculty at public universities. Until a new law governing such disciplinary actions is put in place, all of the disciplinary investigations initiated against Peace Petition signatories across the country remain unauthorized. That many of these investigations have not only gone forward but have resulted in the suspension without pay or termination of dozens of faculty members on the sole grounds of their having signed the petition is all the more troubling for its patent illegality whether under Turkish or international law. Further, the pressure brought to bear on universities by prosecutors’ offices is unprecedented and aggravates an already dire threat to academic freedom in Turkey. We respectfully request that all of these unlawful investigations and the resulting punishments that have been meted out against signatories for having expressed their political opinions be terminated or reversed.

The government’s decision to call on public prosecutors to initiate terrorism-based criminal investigations of the Petition signatories represents another far-reaching violation of academic freedom and freedom of expression. The detention and interrogation of dozens of academics since we last wrote on the subject of the Peace Petition has been well-documented by solidarity networks that have developed to lend support to Turkish academics being targeted by government reprisal actions and the attendant pattern of public and private threats and harassment. Petition signatories who are academics residing in Turkey have been subjected to a relentless campaign of intimidation, facing suspensions and terminations from their hard-earned academic positions and, worse, the threat of years or decades of court battles to defend against baseless accusations of supporting terrorism or spreading terrorist propaganda. Some have even received death threats or threats against family members. The dark portrait of repression and state-sanctioned intimidation that has emerged in the aftermath of President Erdoğan’s initial condemnation of the signatories is more extensive, systematic and profound a violation of basic civil and political rights than has been witnessed in any period of recent Turkish history under civilian rule.

Moreover, this government-initiated campaign of repression through university disciplinary investigations and criminal prosecutions has also produced a permissive environment for private attacks on signatories. The waves of suspensions, terminations, detentions and interrogations has been accompanied by a far-reaching campaign of private intimidation. Pro-government newspapers have carried stories for weeks in which individual academics are singled out for having signed the petition, their names and photographs published alongside accusations of being pro-terror or having committed treason, and strong suggestions to the reading public that private vigilante attacks on signatories would be appropriate. Against the backdrop of recent examples of mob violence against newspaper columnists and editors following similarly suggestive articles, such threats cannot be taken lightly. In one notorious instance, Sedat Peker, a well-known mafia figure and self-proclaimed supporter of President Erdoğan declared that nationalists would “bathe in the blood of signatories” (“Akan kanınızla duş alacağız”). This proclamation was followed by a pattern of threatening messages signed by ultranationalist “idealist” groups taped to the doors of faculty offices together with vandals marking doors on campuses across the country with red crosses, suggesting particular academics may be singled out for violent attacks. Those subjected to these ultranationalist vigilante campaigns have received scant support or protection from the police or university administrators. As a result, these threats have forced faculty across the country to retreat from their campuses and offices into hiding.

The list of academics that have been individually subjected to disciplinary or criminal investigations or threats of violence from private parties is too long to recite in this letter. Nor do we wish to republicize the names of individuals to subject them to a second wave of intimidation, harassment and threats from pro-government forces acting as private vigilantes. Indeed, even if we wished to provide complete tallies of those who have been subjected to disciplinary investigation, termination, criminal investigation (which theoretically now includes all signatories, according to the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s office) and/or detention and interrogation, together with those targeted by private threats and harassment, any tally we provide would immediately become outdated. To give a sense, within two weeks of the president’s statement, one reputable academic network in Turkey reported that 39 academic signatories had been detained and interrogated, 109 subjected to disciplinary investigation and 29 removed from their positions. But these numbers have given way to much larger totals in the intervening weeks. Instead of trying to keep numbers updated, we provide, in an appendix to this letter, detailed information, where it is available, to offer a representative but non-exhaustive portrait of the gravity and magnitude of the pattern of harassment, intimidation, prosecution and repression to which academics have been subjected as a consequence of signing the Peace Petition.

The astonishing scope of the prosecutions, disciplinary investigations and campaigns of private harassment directed against the 1128 signatories of the Peace Petition is staggering. We have never before amassed such a record of violations of academic freedom and freedom of expression in such a short period in the history of our activities in defense of academic freedom in the countries of the Middle East. This record of repression and intimidation of academics is all the more disturbing when considered in light of Turkey’s reputation, until recently, of aspiring to maintain a standard of protection of civil and political rights in keeping with the European Convention of Human Rights. The magnitude of the reversal of Turkey’s earlier trajectory of political liberalization is expressed in the challenge of trying to capture the sheer volume of private and public attacks on academic freedom that have characterized just the first six weeks of 2016.

As a member state of the Council of Europe and a signatory of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Turkey is required to protect freedom of thought, expression and assembly. Turkey is also a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), all of which protect the rights to freedom of expression and association, which are at the heart of academic freedom. These rights are also enshrined in articles 25-27 of the Turkish Constitution. We urge your government to take all necessary steps to abandon the course currently being pursued and to return to earlier practices in line with ensuring that these rights are protected.

We respectfully ask that your government take immediate steps to ensure that all of the investigations, disciplinary and criminal, that we enumerate in this letter be terminated or reversed and that the permissive climate for vigilante action against academic signatories of the Peace Petition be immediately addressed through appropriate action on campuses and, where necessary, through additional protection for targeted individuals. Moreover, the widespread and libelous accusations against the signatories that have featured so prominently in the pro-government press should be deterred through clear statements by your government repudiating the allegations and threats being published against individual signatories. While we have tried to be comprehensive in the overview we provide of actions taken against signatories to date, there is no doubt that additional disciplinary or criminal investigations may be initiated; we respectfully demand that any such investigations also be dropped. Against a backdrop of mounting international condemnation of the erosion of democratic rights and freedoms under your administration, taking steps to protect academic freedom and the right to education would be an important step to address concerns about human rights in Turkey.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely, 

Beth Baron                                                                             
MESA President                                                                   
Professor, City University of New York                  

Amy W. Newhall
MESA Executive Director
Associate Professor, University of Arizona


Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Cumhurbaşkanı (President of the Republic of Turkey)

İsmail Kahraman, Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi Başkanı (President of the Turkish National Assembly)

Bekir Bozdağ, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Adalet Bakanı (Justice Minister of the Republic of Turkey)

Yekta Saraç, Türkiye Yüksek Öğretim Kurulu (YÖK) Başkanı (President of the Turkish Higher Education Council)

Elena Valenciano, Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights

Barbara Lochbihler, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights

Monika Kacinskiene, Member of the Cabinet of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations

Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Kati Piri, Member, Committee on Foreign Affairs, European Parliament.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Kishore Singh, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education

Serdar Kılıç, Turkish Ambassador to the United States

John R. Bass, United States Ambassador to Turkey

İhsan Sabuncuoğlu, Rector, Abdullah Gül University

Ali Haberal, Rector, Başkent University

Kerem Alkın, Rector, Nişantaşı University

Levent Uysal, Chair, Board of Trustees, Nişantaşı University

Mehmet Çivi, Rector, Arel University

Muhit Mert, Rector, Fatih Üniversitesi

Musa Duman, Rector, Fatih Sultan Mehmet University

İbrahim Kafi Dönmez, Rector, İstanbul 29 Mayıs University 

Nazım Ekren, Rector, İstanbul Ticaret University

Şahin Karasar, Rector, Maltepe University

İbrahim Hakkı Yılmaz, Rector, Iğdır University

Emin Arat, Rector, Marmara University

Hasan Gönen, Rector, Eskişehir Osmangazi University

Mansur Harmandar, Rector, Muğla Sırkı Koçman University

Ramazan Kaplan, Rector, Bartın University

Naci Gündoğan, Rector, Anadolu University

Aygün Attar, Rector, Giresun University

Ubeyde İpek, Rector, Tunceli University

Yusuf Ulçay, Rector, Uludağ University

Mustafa Güden, Rector, Izmir Institute of Technology

Candeğer Yılmaz, Rector, Ege University

Mehmet Füzün, Rector, Izmir Dokuz Eylul University

Hüseyin Akan, Rector, Samsun Ondokuz Mayıs University

Mustafa Inal, Rector, Akdeniz University

Hayri Coşkun, Rector, Abant Izzet Baysal University

Faruk Kocacık, Rector, Cumhuriyet University

Murat Tuncer, Rector, Hacettepe University

Nigar Demircan Çakar, Rector, Düzce University

Ebubekir Ceylan, Rector, Hakkari University

Mahmut Ak, Rector, Istanbul University

Sadettin Hülagü, Rector, Kocaeli University

Ahmet Ağırakça, Rector, Mardin Artuklu University

Mahmut Özer, Rector, Bülent Ecevit University

Niyazi Eruslu, Rector, Yalova University 

Muzaffer Elmas, Rector, Sakarya University 

Peyami Battal, rector, Van Yüzüncü Yıl University

Hayri Çoşkun, Rector, Bolu University.

Mustafa Talha Gönüllü, Rector, Adıyaman University 

Abdurrahman Gül, interim Rector, Bingöl University 

Nazım Ekren, Rector, Istanbul Ticaret University [Istanbul Commerce University]

İbrahim Çağlar, Chair, Istanbul Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trustees of Istanbul Commerce University

Erkan İbiş, Rector, Ankara University

Ayşegül Jale Saraç, Rector, Dicle University

Mustafa Kibar, Rector, Çukurova University

Aral Ege, Rector, Ufuk University

Mehmet Yavuz Coşkun, Rector, Gaziantep University

Abdüsselam Uluçam, Rector, Batman University

Yener Yörük, Rector, Trakya University

İlyas Çapoğlu, Rector, Erzincan University

Hikmet Koçak, Rector, Erzurum Atatürk University

Mehmet Karaca, Rector, Istanbul Technical University

Hüseyin Hüsnü Gündüz, Rector, Istanbul Yeni Yüzyıl University

Canan Aykut Bingöl, Rector, Yeditepe University

Abdullah Dinçkol, Rector, Doğuş University

Ahmet Alkan Çelik, Chair, Board of Trustees, Doğuş University

Ümran Inan, Rector, Koç University

Şenay Yalçın, Rector, Bahçeşehir University

Enver Yücel, Chair, Board of Trustees, Bahçeşehir University

İsmail Yüksek, Rector, Yıldız Technical University

Emin Karahan, Rector, Beykent University

Cemali Dinçer, Rector, Izmir Yaşar University

Oğuz Esen, Rector, Izmir Ekonomi University

Ekrem Demirtaş, Chair, Board of Trustees, and Chair, Izmir Chamber of Commerce

Kayhan Erciyeş, Rector, Izmir University

Ali Rıza Doğanata, Chair, Board of Trustees, Izmir University

Mustafa Şahin, Rector, Selçuk University

Yüksel Özdemir, Rector, Toros University

Yadigar İzmirli, Rector , Istanbul Aydın University

Sıddıka Semahat Demir, Rector, Istanbul Kültür University

Ahmet Çamsarı, Rector, Mersin University

Ayşe Şule Kut, Rector, Okan University

Süleyman Büyükberber, Rector, Gazi University

Ekrem Yıldız, Rector, Kırıkkale University

Cengiz Kallek, Rector, Istanbul Şehir University



Disciplinary and criminal investigations of signatories:

The following are instances of disciplinary investigations initiated by university administrations and criminal investigations initiated by local prosecutors (and in some instances subsequently transferred for central processing and consolidation in Istanbul or Ankara). The list is not comprehensive but represents a snapshot of the information we were able to verify as of February 17, 2016. We have alphabetized the list by city to indicate the prosecutors’ offices to which each case has been or may be directed.

At Çukurova University (Adana) two academics were notified orally that a disciplinary investigation was being initiated against them by the university administration but they have not yet received written notification of the proceedings.

At least three Ankara-area public and private universities have initiated disciplinary proceedings against signatories. At Hacettepe University, Rector Murat Tuncer notified YÖK that disciplinary proceedings had been initiated against 21 signatories including university faculty and research staff. At Ankara University 121 signatories were informed that disciplinary investigations had been initiated against them and were asked to submit written statements to the university administration by February 10, 2016. At Ufuk University the sole signatory was notified that the administration had initiated a disciplinary investigation.

At Akdeniz University (Antalya) 8 academic signatories are under disciplinary investigation and have submitted written statements in their defense.

At Gaziantep University (Antep) the university administration, YÖK and the local prosecutor’s office have all initiated investigations, with Rector Yavuz Coşkun publicly stating that “to accuse one’s own state of engaging in a massacre represents a form of sloganeering that cannot be reconciled with scientific inquiry or academic freedom” (Kendi devletine 'katliam yapıyor' şeklindeki sloganik ve ucuz söylemler, bilimsellikle ve akademik özgürlükle bağdaşır değil).

At Bartın University (Bartın), the administration informed a signatory that they were being removed from their position as a department chair as a consequence of their having signed the petition. The same individual is the subject of a criminal investigation for denigrating Turkishness and spreading terrorist propaganda initiated by the Bartın Public Prosecutor’s office.

At Batman University (Batman) five signatories are under disciplinary investigation.

At Bingöl University (Bingöl) a signatory heard rumors that they would be subjected to disciplinary investigation for having signed the petition but before receiving written notification was informed instead that campus video cameras had captured the individual’s late arrival to campus between 14 December 2015 and 15 January 2016 and that this would be the basis for a separate disciplinary investigation resulting in a loss of salary. This signatory believes that they were subjected to a pretextual investigation and penalty as part of an intimidation campaign in retaliation for having signed the petition.

At Abant Izzet Baysal University (Bolu) the university administration issued a press release stating that “all necessary procedures will be initiated against signatories,” and then undertook disciplinary investigation. The signatories were also targeted by the Public Prosecutor, their homes raided and their statements taken, though they were not detained or taken into custody. The disciplinary investigation of signatories by the university administration is ongoing and they also await further information from the prosecutor’s office as to possible additional criminal investigation.

At Dicle University (Diyarbakır) 24 signatories are under disciplinary investigation by the university administration and are also facing criminal investigation by the public prosecutor’s office.

At Düzce University an academic signatory has been suspended from his/her position pending the completion of a disciplinary investigation. The same individual is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Düzce Public Prosecutor in connection to which an arrest warrant has been issued. As a result, this individual is also subject to a travel ban and his/her appeal to have the ban lifted has been denied.

At Trakya University (Edirne) two academic signatories and a doctoral candidate are the subjects of a disciplinary investigation by the university administration and have submitted written statements in their defense.

At Erzincan University (Erzincan) the sole signatory has been subjected to disciplinary investigation by the university including questioning in which s/he was not only asked questions concerning the petition but also about subsequent social media postings s/he had made. The same academic is also the subject of a criminal investigation and was taken by the police to be questioned by the Anti-Terrorism Unit and then taken for interrogation by the public prosecutor.

At Atatürk University (Erzurum), the sole signatory was called in for questioning by the public prosecutor and is now subject to a travel ban preventing departure from the country and has been suspended from the university pending the investigation.

At Eskişehir Osman Gazi University (Eskişehir) the university president publicly announced an investigation “for removal from public service” against four signatories and one of the signatories was removed from his/her position as the International Relations Coordinator at the university.

At Anadolu University (Eskişehir), 29 signatories are under disciplinary investigation by the university administration. The Eskişehir public prosecutor’s office indicated on January 18, 2016 that they were not authorized to initiate criminal investigation against these signatories but that their files would be forwarded to the Istanbul public prosecutor’s office.

At Giresun University (Giresun), one signatory was suspended on the grounds that by signing they had “treated operations against the terrorist organization PKK as a massacre and supported terror” and were being investigated under YÖK’s authority entitling the university to suspend them. Other signatories were required to offer joint testimony as part of the broader investigation of signatories at Giresun University and according to eyewitnesses they were accused of having demeaned the university by signing the petition.

At Hakkari University (Hakkari) one signatory was detained by the public prosecutor’s office, interrogated and then released as part of a criminal investigation of petition signatories.

At least twelve İstanbul-area public and private universities have initiated disciplinary investigations into signatories of the petition. These include İstanbul University (53 signatories), İstanbul Technical University (30 signatories), İstanbul Arel University (9 signatories), Maltepe University (3 signatories), İstanbul Şehir University (5 signatories), İstanbul Yeni Yüzyıl University (1 signatory), Yeditepe University (3 signatories, including one who has since withdrawn his/her signature), Nişantaşı University (6 signatories who were eventually terminated), Doğuş University (2 signatories), Koç University (8 signatories), Bahçeşehir University (6 signatories), Yıldız Technical University (31 signatories) and Beykent University (2 signatories). Public prosecutor’s offices in the İstanbul area have initiated criminal investigations of all signatories in their jurisdiction amounting to 123 under investigation, 82 by the Anadolu Chief Prosecutor’s Office and 41 by the Bakırköy Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

At least four İzmir-area public and private universities have initiated disciplinary investigations into signatories of the petition. These include İzmir Yaşar University (4 signatories), İzmir University (1 signatory who is now terminated), İzmir Ekonomi University (5 signatories) and İzmir Yüksek Tekonoloji Enstitüsü (İzmir Higher Institute of Technology) (3 signatories).

At Kocaeli University (Kocaeli) the academic senate published a statement that all signatories at the university would be investigated for supporting terror and 21 academics from the university face disciplinary proceedings, for which they have been asked to give their statements on February 23rd. The Public Prosecutor of Kocaeli has forwarded the files of the signatories to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for criminal investigation.

At Selçuk University (Konya) one signatory who has since withdrawn her/his signature has been subjected to a disciplinary investigation by the university administration.

At Mersin University (Mersin), 21 academics are under disciplinary investigation by the university administration. Two of the signatories’ contracts were not renewed resulting in their dismissal. Four of the signatories are now under criminal investigation by the anti-terror police for social media (Facebook) posts related to the petition.

At Mardin Artuklu (Mardin) 27 of the signatories are under criminal investigation and have provided testimony after being called in for questioning by the public prosecutor’s office. Two of the signatory professors are currently facing disciplinary investigation by the university administration. 

At Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University (Muğla), a press release issued by the university on January 14th stated that those who provide support to terrorist attacking security personnel trying to safeguard the homeland are inexcusable regardless of their stature or profession. After that statement nine signatories were subjected to disciplinary and criminal investigation. On January 20th all nine were suspended for two months along with five of six academics (the sixth being emeritus) who subsequently signed the petition, bringing the total number of suspensions to 14. On January 25th an appeal was filed to prevent these suspensions but academics in the Science and Literature Faculty were contacted by phone by the administration, contrary to the law, and asked to turn in their office keys. A second disciplinary investigation was initiated against the 14 suspended signatories on February 2nd.

At Sakarya University (Sakarya), a doctoral candidate signatory was informed that s/he would not be permitted to continue with doctoral coursework.

In Samsun, the public prosecutor’s office has initiated a criminal investigation against seven signatories on suspicion of violating anti-terrorism laws, spreading terrorist propaganda and denigrating the Turkish republic and its institutions.

At Sivas Cumhuriyet University, one signatory is subject to disciplinary and criminal investigation.

At Toros University, at least one signatory is subject to disciplinary investigation.

At Tunceli University (Tunceli) seven signatories are subject to disciplinary investigation.

At Van Yüzüncü Yıl University (Van), the administration has initiated a disciplinary investigation of four signatories for “inciting the people with divisive, separatist and hateful” “dark propaganda.”

At Yalova University (Yalova), the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administration initiated an investigation against signatories followed by disciplinary proceedings in which the signatories have been given until February 18th to submit written statements to the dean’s office.

Terminations of academic positions for signatories at public and private universities:

Of the 1128 academic signatories of the Peace Petition, 216 are employed by private universities in Turkey (which are known as vakıf universities because they are endowed by private foundations) and the vast majority of others are employed at public universities. Those at private universities are far more precarious and vulnerable to termination because they do not benefit from protections available by law to public university professors. As a result, the pattern that has emerged is largely one of terminations at private universities and intense pressure (going so far as death threats) on academics at public universities to resign. The cases below are focused on those where termination rather than mere investigation has occurred or has been threatened. The following details provide only a very partial list but are certainly illustrative of the pattern emerging at private and public universities. We have alphabetized these lists by university for ease of reference.

Private (Vakıf or Foundation Endowed) Universities:

At Bahçeşehir University (İstanbul) at least one signatory who was a part-time adjunct lecturer was dismissed from his/her position.

At Başkent University (Ankara) one academic signatory was suspended pending termination, but subsequently permitted to resume her/his position within two weeks.

At Fatih University (İstanbul) the sole signatory was subjected to an intense campaign of intimidation and threats, pressured to resign and eventually terminated.

At Fatih Sultan Mehmet University (İstanbul) the sole signatory was pressured to resign and threatened with losing any rights to severance but was eventually terminated with severance paid.

At İstanbul Aydın University (İstanbul) one signatory was terminated from a tenure-line position.

At İstanbul Ticaret University (İstanbul) the sole signatory learned that the head of the university’s board had “ordered” that s/he be “terminated” in a newspaper article; the academic was suspended pending completion of a disciplinary investigation towards termination.

At İstanbul 29 Mayıs University (İstanbul) three signatories are facing termination proceedings.

At İstanbul Doğuş University (İstanbul) one person has been removed from his administrative position.

At İstanbul Kültür University (İstanbul) one signatory who was a part-time adjunct lecturers was dismissed from his/her positions.

At İzmir University ((İzmir) one signatory has been terminated.

At Maltepe University (İstanbul) one signatory was pressured to resign and eventually opted for early retirement. Two other signatories have been terminated.

At Mersin University (Mersin) two of the signatories’ contracts were not renewed resulting in their dismissal.

At Nişantaşı University (İstanbul) the chairman of the board of trustees called for the resignation of signatories. Six tenured and tenure-line signatories were terminated.

At Okan University (İstanbul) adjunct lecturers (paid on an hourly basis) were asked to remove their affiliation with the university from their signatures on the petition and one such lecturer was dismissed from her/his post.

At Yeni Yüzyıl University (İstanbul) the sole signatory was put under pressure for one week to withdraw her/his signature and upon refusal was pressured to resign. Termination proceedings were then initiated on January 22nd, with the signatory providing their written defense on the 28th. While the academic has not been suspended during the proceedings s/he was informed that this was in order to complete the investigation as expeditiously as possible.

Public Universities:

At Abdullah Gül University (Kayseri) the sole signatory was pressured to resign and eventually requested early retirement.

At Akdeniz University (Antalya) a signatory was pressured by the assistant dean’s office to resign and eventually did submit their resignation.

At Düzce University (Düzce), the university administration has publicly stated that an investigation initiated concerning one signatory would require suspension and might result in termination.

At İstanbul University (İstanbul), the Rector’s office directed all deans that signatories, 53 of whom are under disciplinary investigation, were to be removed from any administrative positions they may hold, including research center directorships, departmental chairmanships or vice-chairmanships, and all other such roles. As a result, the Director of the İstanbul University Center for Applied Research on Women’s Issues was removed from that position by virtue of being a signatory. Many members of that Center’s advisory board are also signatories who were removed from their positions, decimating the administration of the Center. Some others in administrative positions are resisting removal and remaining in their positions while awaiting final determination by their deans though they have been put under pressure to retire from those position or resign, and at least one departmental vicechair has resigned.

At Kocaeli University (Kocaeli), one signatory was removed from his/her administrative position.

At Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University (Muğla) in addition to the 14 signatories subject to disciplinary investigation, a foreign faculty member was subjected to pressure by the administration for his Facebook postings expressing solidarity with the signatories. As a consequence of the pressure from the administration and private threats against this individual, they resigned their position and left the country.

At Sivas Cumhuriyet University (Sivas), one signatory has been removed from his administrative positions.

Threats against and targeting of academic signatories by university administrators, private actors and ultranationalist vigilante groups:

While the following are instances of private threats against signatories, they occur in a permissive climate produced at the highest levels of the Turkish government and many of the private threats echo those published in the pro-government media. The absence of any official sanction for those who openly threaten violence against signatories is an exacerbating factor. The cases detailed here are in many instances of faculty who fear returning to their campuses and may never be able to resume their positions at universities where they have reason to believe their students are issuing threats and their departments and university administrators are enabling those actions. The list is alphabetized by university for ease of reference.

At Abant İzzet Baysal University (Bolu) three signatories have been subjected to attacks in social media as well as the local and national press and have received threats including having their office doors marked for attack; all three individuals now fear for their personal safety and that of their families. Further, the university administration at Abant İzzet Baysal issued a press release stating that the university “cannot accept the claims in the Peace Petition or the fact that members of the university faculty signed it. All necessary procedures will be initiated against signatories.” (Bu bildiriyi onaylamamız, kabul etmemiz mümkün değil. Akademisyenlerimizin böyle bir bildiriye imza atması da kabul edilebilir bir durum değil. Haklarında mevzuata göre gerekli soruşturmalar başlatıldı, yürütülecek).

At Adnan Menderes University (Aydın) the Rector’s Office issued a press release accusing signatories of being “terror supporters” and committing to do everything necessary against signatories to show that the university’s support for the state and the nation (devletimizin ve milletimizin yanında olduğumuzu kamuoyuyla paylaşıyoruz). This threat against signatories by the university administration might also signal the initiation of possible disciplinary action against signatories.

At Atatürk University (Erzurum) a research fellow was identified in the local press as a signatory and subjected to a campaign of harassment by phone and social media culminating in a raid by private actors against their office, leaving the researcher unable to return to campus out of fear.

At Ankara University (Ankara) a professor who used the Peace Petition as part of an examination question was targeted by pro-government media and subsequently began receiving death threats by email.

At Bartın University (Bartın), the administration issued a public statement in support of “the state’s rightful struggle against terrorism” and denouncing signatories.

At Çukurova University (Çukurova) three academics were singled out by the local press as “terror supporters” and have been the victims of a barrage of threats over social media.

At Düzce University (Düzce) an associate professor was labeled a “terror supporter” in social media and is currently experiencing serious threats to personal security.

At Ege University (İzmir), ten signatories have become the victims of a campaign by their colleagues to discredit them and target them with reprisal actions.

At Eskişehir Osman Gazi University (Eskişehir) three researchers were identified in local media prompting attack groups to hang a poster stating “Terrorists Not Welcome at our University” (Üniversitemizde Terörist İstemiyoruz) on campus and resulting in a campaign of insulting and threatening messages to the signatories.

At Eskişehir Anadolu University (Eskişehir) 19 academic signatories were identified in the local and national press as “terror supporters” and an education union leader made a public statement calling for them to be removed from their positions. One researcher at the university was singled out for a Facebook post in a pro-government national newspaper leading to death threats that have prevented that academic from returning to campus.

At Fatih University (İstanbul) an assistant professor was subjected to targeting on social media and threatening messages were hung on that individual’s office door.

At Gazi University (Ankara) three academics were attacked in the local and national press leading attack groups, including one calling itself “Gazi Idealists”, to threaten the academics and ultimately to attempt to set fire to their offices. Another academic at the university threatened to shoot the signatories on social media. Taken together these threats have prevented all three from using their offices or coming to campus and have left them with no way to ensure their personal security while continuing to fulfill the obligations of their academic positions.

At Hacettepe University (Ankara) 21 academic signatories were threatened by a group calling itself “Hacettepe Idealist-Ultranationalists”, which put notes on each of their doors saying that “PKK-supporting terrorist academics were not wanted at the school). 17 of these academics were singled out on a Facebook page entitled “We Don’t Want Terror at Hacettepe” and attributing responsibility for the death of a four-year old child in a terrorist attack to the signatories based on their involvement with the Petition. All of these academics have been receiving personal threats on social media. They have filed complaints with the Rector’s office concerning these threats but had not received any response as of this writing.

At Kırıkkale University (Kırıkkale) an assistant professor signatory has been targeted as a result of the university administration’s own press release as well as coverage in the local and national press, with a note left in her/his office individually naming her/him as an unwanted PKK supporter. The campaign of attacks against this academic on social media, combined with the campus threats, have prevented her/him from returning to campus out of security fears.

At Kocaeli University (Kocaeli) 19 academic signatories were identified in the local press as “academic supporters of terror” and have since been subjected to threats on campus and on social media.

At Mersin University (Mersin) 20 academic signatories were targeted on a Facebook page titled “University Greywolves”that published their names, photographs and departments, resulting in a campaign of threatening messages against them.

At Ondokuz Mayıs University (Samsun), 7 academic signatories were targeted by local and national media with a petition campaign calling for their dismissal from their posts. They have received dozens of threatening messages and been denounced by their colleagues at the university as “national traitors” and “terror supporters” leaving them fearing for their safety.

At Pamukkale University (Denizli) a professor signatory was targeted as a “PKK sympathizer” by a social media account identified as “JITEM” (a Turkish acronym for counter-terrorism police) and threats were hung on the professor’s office door.

At Sakarya University (Sakarya) two research fellows and one doctoral candidate who are signatories were identified in local media and targeted. A message taped to the doors of the research fellows’ offices read “so-called academics, actual traitors, Sakarya has no place for you” (sözde akademisyen, özde hainler, Sakarya’yı size dar edeceğiz). Both have been subjected to death threats and insults and are unable to return to campus out of fear.

At Selçuk University (Konya) an assistant professor was threatened by attack groups, leaving a sign on her door stating that “there is no room for traitors like you on hallowed Turkish soil” (şerefi şanı büyük Türk topraklarında senin gibi hainlere yer yok) and targeted in the local media.


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