Turkish academics dismissed with emergency decrees open café-library in Mersin
MERSİN – Doğan News Agency
Three Turkish academics dismissed from their jobs through state of emergency decrees for signing the January 2016 “Academics for Peace” petition have opened up a café-library together in the southern province of Mersin.
Professor Ayşe Gül Yılgör, Associate Professor Ulaş Bayraktar, university teacher Galip Deniz Atınay, and activist Nalan Turgutlu Bilgin opened “Kültürhane” (Culture House) in Mersin on Sept. 29.
“Even if school doors are closed to us, we will continue to pursue our cultural, academic and scientific work. Universities will now expand to the cities, and Kültürhane is one of those stops,” said Yılgör, who was dismissed from Mersin University’s School of Economics and Management Sciences.
The founders of Kültürhane help students work on their dissertations and plan to expand their activities by organizing workshops and panels there. They all serve customers while also continuing their academic works in the study section.
“When I take orders, visitors may feel surprised, but what matters is that we are producing together,” Yılgör said.
Many of the books in the library were gathered from Turkish academics who have opted to leave the country in recent years.
Bayraktar, who was also a faculty member in Mersin University’s School of Economics and Management Sciences, and whose father was a lieutenant killed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 1980 in the southeastern city of Mardin, described the center as a “collective effort.”
“Whoever is there at the time does whatever has to be done, whether it be washing dishes or taking orders. We are not egotistical people,” he said.
“We get our tea from the Hopa Tea Cooperative and our coffee from the Zapatista Coffee Collective. This is a collective effort,” Bayraktar added.
“Many of our friends who signed the Academics for Peace petition were also dismissed from their jobs. Those who are particularly well qualified were able to find scholarships abroad and they left their personal libraries to us, which is how we collected thousands of books,” said Yılgör, who has gained renown for the delicious organic lemonade she prepares for customers, dubbed “Professor’s Lemonade.”