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RIGHTS >Academics unite against oppression at universities

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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GIT members say hundreds of university students are being prosecuted or suspended from the university on accusations of ‘aiding terrorist organizations’.

GIT members say hundreds of university students are being prosecuted or suspended from the university on accusations of ‘aiding terrorist organizations’.

Academics have raised their voice to denounce the “oppression and intimidation” they say they are encountering at Turkish universities.

“Academics are being intimidated, fired or suspended from their positions by rectors or the Higher Educational Council [YÖK] because of their research topics or political ideas. And there are hundreds of university students that are being prosecuted or suspended from the university on accusations of ‘aiding terrorist organizations.’ The situation is outrageous,” Galatasaray University Professor Ahmet İnsel told journalists at a press conference in Istanbul.

Solidarity network


Some 400 academics from 50 different universities in Turkey and abroad have formed a solidarity network called “International Workshop Group for Freedom of Research and Education” to act as a watchdog to document and prevent oppression in Turkish universities.

“Today, a wide policy of oppression and intimidation is being systematically implemented in universities under the name of a ‘fight on terror.’ Hundreds of university students have been arrested like this,” İnsel said.

“Our colleague, Professor Büşra Ersanlı, was arrested on unsubstantiated accusations and has been in prison for 108 days. However, she has devoted all her life to maintaining peace. This is the last straw,” said Professor Zeynep Gambetti, an assistant professor at Boğaziçi University.

Ersanlı was arrested three and a half months ago for her alleged connections with the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Academics who are especially known for their work on the Kurdish or Armenian issues, as well as those known for being political opponents of the government, are being systematically suspended from universities, Gambetti said.

February/17/2012

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