Our Story

Academicians are paid for their statements, thoughts, or beliefs. However, what if I say some of us pay a heavy price for it? Over the years, numerous scholars have faced discrimination, persecution, suffering, and violence worldwide, forcing others to terminate their science-related courses. This letter demonstrates this unfortunate reality. In 1933, Hitler expelled the 20th Century academics from German universities. As vividly remembered, the Nazis executed the renowned Gleichschaltung guided by the government’s strict legal measures, which triggered the Nazification process. One night, hundreds of thousands of books were burned, and numerous intellectuals were either arrested, exiled, or killed in the famous Reichstag fire. Do you think this example is from an ancient era? Then, consider the more than 9 thousand academics that Erdogan’s Government has banned within the last seven years. His regime declared a state of emergency after the July 15th, 2016’s coup attempt, which he later described as “God’s grace”. Moreover, within three days immediately after declaring the state of emergency on July 20th, Statutory Decrees and Dismissals, 35 health institutions and organizations,15 Foundation Universities, 1.043 private schools, 1.229 foundations and associations, 19 syndicates and syndicate confederations were shut down, and 2.346 academicians were dismissed from 96 different universities through the Statutory decree no. 667. Such Statutory Decrees and Dismissals were prevalent. For instance, more than 9.000 academicians, 4.000 judges and prosecutors, 33.000 teachers, 33.000 police officers, and 24.000 army officers lost their jobs. In total, 134.000 public personnel were dismissed. Later on, more than one and half million people were investigated, an estimated 332.000 detained, and over 95.000 imprisoned. The Turkish Government has yet to announce the exact number of public employees dismissed perspicuously. Unfortunately, these numbers continue to increase. Multiple resources highlight Turkey’s damaged academic freedom over the last decade. We know such experiences are common worldwide. This letter’s objective is not to ask for any help or financial aid for our work! Also, we do not expect you to grant privileges or share your scientific opportunities with us. We are alive, safe, and free to speak. However, some of us are not. As free academics living outside Turkey, we came together under the umbrella of the Academics at Risk Association. We strive to let our colleagues know what we have been through, to return to our academic lives, and, most importantly, to announce the injustices our colleagues and comrades in Turkey are still going through. This letter has only one main objective – to raise awareness about Turkish scholars who were and those still at risk. We encourage you to visit the link below about the scientific resources above and share this letter with your colleagues or friends after you are sure of the reliability of this information. Many thanks and we look forward to your support on this matter.

References (Law, News and Reports)

1) Decree Law No. 667.  https://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2016/07/20160723-8.htm (date published: 23 July 2016)

2) News: Republic of Turkey, Ministry of National Defence, https://www.msb.gov.tr/SlaytHaber/22112022-31427 (date accessed: 01.12.2022)

3) News: Republic of Turkey, Minister of Interior, https://www.indyturk.com/node/73626/haber/i%C3%A7i%C5%9Fleri-bakan%C4%B1-soylu-emniyette%C5%9Fkilat%C4%B1nda-17-25-aral%C4%B1ktan-bu-yana-yakla%C5%9F%C4%B1k-33-bin (date accessed: 01.12.2022)

4) Report for Social Costs of the State of Emergency, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CG7K7JOuhEMV_tyK_lpE2qJjtZ4daxyZ/view (date accessed: 01.12.2022)

5) News: Republic of Turkey, Minister of Interior, https://www.trthaber.com/haber/gundem/bakansoylu-fetoden-332-bin-884-kisi-gozaltina-alindi-692917.html (date accessed: 01.12.2022)

6) Report of U.S. Department of State https://www.state.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2022/03/313615_TURKEY-2021-HUMAN-RIGHTS-REPORT.pdf (date accessed: 01.12.2022)

7) ANNUAL REPORT European Court of Human Rights, https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Annual_report_2016_ENG.pdf (date accessed: 01.12.2022)

8) Report: Mustafa YENEROĞLU, Hukuksuzluğun Sıradanlaşması: Silahlı Terör Örgütü Üyeliği Yargılamaları, Eylül 2021, https://www.raporlar.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Teror-OrgutuUyeligi-Raporu.pdf

Some of Academic References

1) Hasan Aydin & Köksal Avincan (2021) ‘Am I a terrorist or an educator?’ Turkish asylum seekers narratives on education rights violations after a crackdown following the 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey, Globalisation, Societies and Education, DOI: 10.1080/14767724.2021.2017264

2) Özgür H. Çınar & Tolga Şirin (2017) Turkey’s human rights agenda, Research and Policy on Turkey, 2:2, 133-143, DOI: 10.1080/23760818.2017.1350354

3) Betül Yarar and Yasemin Karakaşoğlu, ‘Scholars at Risk’ in Germany: Forced Migration and Agency in Forced Migration Decision-Making, Journal of Refugee Studies, 2022; https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/feac044

4) Hasan Aydin and Winston Langley, Human Rights in Turkey: Assaults on Human Dignity, Springer-Verlag, ISBN: 978-3-030-57476-5, 2021.

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Memory Book