Thursday, June 23, 2016

Decline of Academic Freedom in Turkey

The number of incidents involving academics resulting in imprisonment, loss of position, prosecution, travel restrictions, violence and other types of threats are increasing at an alarming rate in Turkey.

Erdogan depicted by NYT
Lately, Prof. Dr. Zeynep Sayin Balikcioglu was dismissed from her position at Bilgi University for criticising Turkey's over-sensitive (Thousands of people have been charged for insulting him) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a lecture. She argued about the increasing rudeness and vulgarity and Pres. Erdogan was at the center of this trend. Tragically, a student secretly recorded these remarks and made a complaint to rector's office. Even more tragically, she was immediately dismissed by the management on June 16,  with the following public statement:

We want to inform the public about Prof. Dr. Zeynep Sayin Balikcioglu, who insulted our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a lecture on June 15, 2016, which was also mentioned on social media. … She was dismissed immediately after our rector’s office found out about the incident. Our rector’s office also immediately gave instructions to analyze the incident and launch the necessary legal investigations about it.

It is really sad to see these kind of people who cave in against corrupt power so easily manage universities (if you can call such an institution a university). Prof.  Christoph K. Neumann apparently agrees with me as he resigned right away from his post:

It does not comply with the existence of academic freedoms to dismiss Professor Zeynep for expressing her ideas during lectures with no questions asked.
An institution without those freedoms cannot be called a university. It is your responsibility to find an appropriate name for that institution, but Bilgi is no longer a university. In this sense, Bilgi University does not exist anymore.

I cannot agree more. I invite everyone to re-align their relations with Bilgi University accordingly.

Just before I post this, I have learned another academic, Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci was placed in detention, standing accused of making terrorist propaganda.

You can find all incidents involving scholars so far here.

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