The Council of Europe
has expressed “great concern” over the arrest of three academics on March 15 on charges of “supporting terror,” calling it an “unacceptable” move that will raise questions of compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights.
“I am following with great concern the recent developments relating to freedom of expression and academic freedom in Turkey. The detention of three academics, Esra Mungan, Kıvanç Ersoy and Muzaffer Kaya, for having signed a petition is unacceptable. It raises questions of compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights, not only concerning the restriction of freedom of expression in the absence of a call for violence, but also in connection with the use of detention,” Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe
commissioner for human rights, said in a message posted to his official Facebook page on March 18.
Mungan, Ersoy and Kaya were arrested in relation to their signatures in a joint petition signed by more than 1,000 colleagues calling for an end to clashes between security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK) in January.
“Detention is an exception to the principle of presumption of innocence and can only be justified when it is absolutely essential for the effectiveness of investigations (securing all available evidence, preventing collusion and interference with witnesses) or to avoid evasion of justice,” Muižnieks said.
“I hope that the judicial authorities will review their decision and release the academics as soon as possible, in line with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Turkish Constitutional Court. I look forward to discussing this issue with the Turkish authorities during my upcoming visit,” he said.