Copenhagen, Ankara, İstanbul 27 September 2016

EuroMed Rights, the Human Rights Association (IHD) and Helsinki Citizens Assembly express concerns about ongoing judicial harassment of call on Turkish authorities to drop judicial proceedings against the academics of Turkey who signed the ‘Statement for Peace’ during the new hearing of their trial[1], taking place this 27 September before the 13th Heavy Penal Court in İstanbul.

On 11 January 2016, 1.128 academics in Turkey and abroad published a statement led by the group Academics for Peace and entitled “We will not be a Party to this Crime”.  The statement of Academics for Peace was published in the context of grave human rights violations resulted from military operations in the South-East region, and armed conflict between security forces and PKK. As part of these operations, the Turkish authorities imposed open-ended and round-the-clock curfews on entire neighborhoods and districts, impacting more than 1,3 million inhabitants. Civilian casualties amounted to hundreds, and very serious and numerous breaches to international law were reported, in particular concerning torture and inhumane and degrading treatments and access to health care[2].

The “Statement for Peace” expressed concern that the curfews exposed their inhabitants to severe human rights violations, and called on the authorities to lift them and to work towards the establishment of a permanent peace process. Soon after its publication, President Erdoğan heavily criticized the academics.

The hearing on 27 September is the second hearing of the case against the Academics Assist. Prof. Dr. Esra Mungan, Assist. Prof. Dr. Meral Camcı, Assist. Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Kaya, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kıvanç Ersoy after appearing before the judge on 22 April 2016. These academics, except for Meral Camci, who was detained on 31 March, were detained on 15 March. The court ruled release of the academics since the prosecutor changed the charges to the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code that regulates insulting Turkishness. The prosecutor needs to consult the Ministry of Justice to continue this trial. Therefore, the hearing on 27 September is important since the Ministry’s decision will affect not only these 4 academics, but also the rest of the signatories.

Our organizations express the deepest concern that the current are used as a pretext to reinforce the authoritarian trend in the country and to crack down on any critical voice such as independent academics.

In light of these measures, we call on the authorities to put an end on the pressure on all signatories of the Statement for Peace and to act in harmony with universal human rights principles; we also call on the EU and its member States to urge their Turkish counterpart to do so and to uphold the rule of law and human rights standards at all times.

[1] Four academics Assist. Prof. Dr. Esra Mungan, Assist. Prof. Dr. Meral Camcı, Assist. Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Kaya, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kıvanç Ersoy.

[2] See the report Human Rights under Curfew, EuroMed Rights/ FIDH, February 2016