We, the members of the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program, condemn the ongoing persecution by the Turkish government of our colleagues in Turkish universities. We express our deep concern about our colleagues in Turkey who have been dismissed by executive decrees without due process and legal recourse and who are now facing a fresh round of criminal indictments. 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. We call for the termination of the trials and the reinstatement of academics to their university positions.
Who are Academics for Peace?
Academics for Peace was founded in November 2012 in the aftermath of a statement that supported Kurdish prisoners’ demands for peace in Turkey, which they voiced through a hunger-strike. The statement was signed by 264 academics from over 50 universities. In their first meeting in December 2012, Academics for Peace decided to work for a peace process in Turkey and to contribute to it by producing knowledge and information on topics like processes of peace and conflict, practices of peace-making, women’s role in the peace process, education in native languages and the destruction of the environment through war. Between the years 2013 and 2016 Academics for Peace signed petitions, organized meetings including one with several members of the Wise People Committee—a committee that the government tasked for meeting with people to learn about their expectations from peace—and published reports on their activities. The members of Academics for Peace also contributed to the peace process by writing in newspapers that compared Turkey’s process with other cases in the world and have at numerous times announced their willingness and readiness to actively participate in the process. However, today, what is known as the Academics for Peace are the signatories of the petition “We will not be a party to this crime!”, which was publicized in January 2016 and include a plurality and a size that go much beyond these previous works.
Since the day the petition “We will not be a party to this crime!” was declared to the public through a press conference, the signatories, whose number at that time already exceeded 2000, faced many attacks. Hundreds of them have been fired from their jobs, their passports have been cancelled and confiscated, they were prevented from finding jobs, several were physically and verbally threatened, others were taken into custody, four of them who read a press statement condemning these violations were imprisoned, hundreds have been robbed from the right to work in the public sector through governmental decrees and finally all of them are currently facing individualized court. In short, the signatories have faced “civil death” through the cooperation of the government the commission of higher education and university managements exactly like the journalists siding with the Justice and Development Party suggested. Despite all this repression, threats and unending harassment a great majority of academics have continued to stand behind their initial statement, resist and collectively support each other.
What is happening now in Turkey?
There is an urgent update regarding the Peace Declaration academics signed last year. As the situation is worsening, the repression of academics in Turkey is also growing. Governmental bodies have started to launch individual lawsuits based on allegations of terrorist propaganda for Peace Declaration signatories, as well as charges of inciting students to revolt among those working in the Solidarity Academies. The academics, including social psychologists, are being charged with "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and are facing 7.5 years in prison. So far, one ISPP member has received their indictment, though others are expected to receive theirs in the coming months. The first trials have started in early December.
Although conditions are worsening and our possibilities to continue our academic lives are threatened, there is also some promising news coming from Turkey: Solidarity Academies around Turkey have started to collaborate and create common spaces and programmes outside of universities. In addition, many organizations, including ISPP and EASP showed their solidarity with Academics for Peace. Please do not hesitate to contact Academics for Peace or directly solidarity academies to show solidarity by giving lectures or joining the collaborations.
How can I support academics in Turkey?
We hope you can actively support academics in Turkey. Here is a summary of how you can do this:
1. Commissioning universities and diplomatic relations to prepare short term work possibilities, research grants or research asylums abroad to help academics, including social psychologists, to continue their academic work.
2. Providing small to mid-scale research funds for the academics who have been banned from leaving Turkey, to help them to pursue their research in Turkey and sustain their livelihoods and scholarly careers.
3. Sharing daily/weekly social media reports on developments related to the state of emergency in Turkey and to the violation of multiple rights.
4. Providing honorary memberships or affiliated memberships for academics banned from academia to help them preserve their academic titles. (New additional remark: If possible and/or applicable, international pairing partners can take initiative to ask their partner in Turkey whether they would need/want honorary affiliation)
5. Holding round table meetings in future conferences regarding academic freedom
6. Skype and recorded video options (and free-registration to conferences) for colleagues who are not allowed to go to international meetings
7. Donating to support academics who have been purged from their positions. You can donate either through a direct donation to the Education and Science Workers’ Union (see the picture: IBAN number on the right side, for those in Europe) or through the following link: https://www.youcaring.com/academicsforpeaceinturkey-763983. Both will go to the same source.