CHP questions why YÖK wants to remove Turkey’s first-ever neuropsychologist from public office
Emine Kart - ANKARAA senior member of Turkey’s main opposition party has questioned why the Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK) wants to punish a senior 81-year-old professor who signed “the Academics for Peace Petition” with the penalty of “removal from public office.”
Professor Öget Öktem Tanör, who founded the first-ever neuropsychology laboratory in Turkey, is a science person who raised names in this field and who found worldwide acceptance, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu said in a parliamentary question presented to the office of Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman on July 10.
By signing the declaration, Tanör has been accused of committing a disciplinary offense in relation to the Law No. 657 on Civil Servants, and she has been asked to present her defense, Tanrıkulu said.
“In this context, what is the legal ground for asking for Tanör’s removal from office even though she retired?” he asked in the motion addressed to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
Tanrıkulu asked about the legal phases of Tanör’s penalization by removal from office by YÖK and whether Tanör would be stripped of her vested rights.
He also asked the number of academics who have been subject to investigation either by the university or YÖK, the number who have been dismissed from university, the number who have been expelled temporarily and the number who have been given various sanctions because they signed “the Academics for Peace petition.”
“How many of those academics who have signed the Academics for Peace Petition are facing the penalty of removal from office?” asked Tanrıkulu.
“How many of those academics who signed the declaration appealed to the relevant authorities due to threats? Were these demands met?” he asked the prime minister.
In early January, 1,128 academics from 89 different universities – including foreign scholars like Noam Chomsky, David Harvey and Immanuel Wallerstein – signed the petition titled “We won’t be a part of this crime,” which called on Ankara to end the “massacre and slaughter” in southeastern Turkey.
On Jan. 11, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the 1,128 of “treason” for signing the call for peace in Turkey. In the call, the signatories stated that they would not be party either to “the massacre against the Kurds or to the Turkish’s state’s ongoing violation of its own laws and international treaties.” Following Erdoğan’s speech, hundreds of academics who signed the petition were subject to disciplinary and criminal investigations, detentions and suspensions.
Universities and prosecutor’s offices across the country subsequently opened probes into a number of the 1,128 local and international academics and intellectuals who fall within the Turkish state’s jurisdiction, arguing that the petition went beyond the limits of academic freedoms.
On March 15, 2016, three academics were incarcerated for signing the original call of Academics for Peace and announcing that they will start an “Academic Vigil.” The arrested academics included Esra Mungan of Boğaziçi University, Kıvanç Ersoy of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and Muzaffer Kaya, formerly of Nişantaşı University. The court also requested the arrest of Meral Camcı, formerly of Yeni Yüzyıl University. Camcı was not arrested as she was then outside Turkey, but she returned to the country, after which she was arrested.
On April 22, an Istanbul court ordered their release in the first hearing of a trial opened against them for making “terrorist propaganda” when they read out the joint peace call.