20 January 2016

Defend Academic Freedom • End the Silence on the Kurdish Struggles

Open ‘Academics for Peace’ Meeting co-hosted by SOAS UCU, SOAS UNISON and SOAS Students’ Union.

SOAS Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre
Friday 22 January 1pm
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1537370903226935/

Speakers: Dr Latif Tas; Professor Nadje Al-Ali; Ceylan Begum Yildiz

Chair: Dr Kerem Nisancioglu

The meeting will discuss the crackdown signatories of the ‘Academics for Peace’ letter, the Turkish state violence against the Kurdish people that prompted that letter and what solidarity action can be taken.


The SOAS Campus unions are deeply disturbed by Turkey’s recent treatment of academics that have raised criticisms of the Turkish government. 1,128 Turkish and Kurdish ‘Academics for Peace’ originally signed the statement “We will not be a party to this crime”, which called on the Turkish government to cease hostilities against its Kurdish population. Since the publication of this statement, these academics have been subject to a sustained attempt by the Turkish state to clamp down on this act of dissent.

Prosecutors have begun proceedings to charge all 1,128 of the original signatories with “propagandising for a terrorist organization” and “overtly insulting the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Government of Republic of Turkey and the judicial organs of the state”.

This has resulted in academics being taken into custody and questioned by the police. If charged and convicted they could face 1-5 years imprisonment. The legitimacy of arrests has been questioned by prominent legal experts and described as “extra-legal” decisions. Signatories have also been publicly exposed in the press and social media by government supporters and nationalists, leading to fears of reprisals from fascists that have declared they will ‘spill the blood’ of the signatories. Signatories also face disciplinary proceedings and sackings from their institutions.

SOAS UCU, UNISON and STUDENTS’ UNION therefore pledge unconditional solidarity and support to our colleagues facing victimisation.

In this meeting we will discuss the victimisation of academics, the wider context of Turkish state violence against Kurds and what can be done by the UCU, UNISON and STUDENTS’ UNION to support those facing persecution.

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