A coalition of twenty tertiary education networks and associations from around the world are expressing grave concern over recent reports a thousand Turkish academics are under investigation.
The organisations have all signed a joint public letter expressing concern about reports that Turkish federal prosecutors have placed under investigation about 1,128 scholars, in apparent retaliation for their signing a public petition urging Turkish authorities to renew dialogue with factions in the southeastern area of the country.
The letter notes that some of the scholars have already been investigated for and/or charged with criminal offences including spreading “terrorist propaganda”, “inciting people to hatred, violence and breaking the law”, and “insulting Turkish institutions and the Turkish Republic”.
Dozens of scholars have reportedly already been detained and interrogated, and suspended or forced to resign from their positions at Turkish higher education institutions.
TEU national president Dr Sandra Grey, who signed the letter, says the Turkish government’s reported actions raise serious concerns not only for the scholars’ professional and personal well-being, but for the ability of intellectuals and institutions in Turkey to undertake scholarship.
The signatory organisations, including TEU, call on Turkish authorities to intervene before any further harm is done to the academics, their institutions, and to Turkey’s reputation.
“Many academics from New Zealand and around the world work with institutions and people from or within Turkey,” says Grey.
“We value these ties and feel it is important to support our colleagues in Turkey in the face of this unprecedented threat.”
The signatories hope that the letter will encourage Turkey to end any pending legal, administrative or professional actions against the academics and to renew publicly its commitment to internationally recognised principles of academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association.