Open letter of support for victimised academics in Turkey

[The following appeal is being circulated to Australian academics by John Tully, Honorary Professor at Victoria University, and  Australians for Kurdistan. See below for information on how to endorse. Please circulate to your colleagues.]

As scholars associated with universities and higher education institutions in Australia, we are extremely disturbed by Turkey’s recent treatment of academics who have spoken out against atrocities being committed by the Turkish state against Kurdish civilians in the eastern parts of the country.

Some 1128 Turkish and Kurdish “Academics for Peace” have courageously signed a statement entitled “We will not be a party to this crime”, which calls 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 campaign of abuse and violence from both the Turkish state and its supporters.

In recent speeches, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly denounced these academics. Subsequently, prosecutors have begun proceedings to charge all 1128 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”.

Signatories have also been publicly exposed in the press and social media by government supporters and nationalists, leading to fears of reprisals from fascists who have declared they will ‘spill the blood’ of the signatories. Many of the signatories also face disciplinary proceedings and possible sackings from their institutions.

Twenty-two academics have so far been taken into custody. If convicted of these charges they could face 1-5 years imprisonment. The legitimacy of the arrests has already been questioned by prominent legal experts and described as “extra-legal” decisions.

These unjust acts are unfolding in a context of continuing state violence against Kurds. In December 2015 alone, 100 Kurds were killed as a result of military operations conducted by the Turkish state. Since August 2015 there have been 52 open-ended and round-the-clock curfews imposed on over one million inhabitants in south-east Turkey. In such a context, the clampdown on academic freedom constitutes another moment in the deepening authoritarianism of the Turkish state. This includes not attacks on not only academics but also the continuing imprisonment and deaths of journalists, opposition MPs, lawyers and activists.

We call on the Turkish government to stop the prosecutions, immediately release all those imprisoned and commit to the principles of academic freedom and free speech. We moreover reaffirm the Academics for Peace call on the Turkish government to cease their hostilities against the Kurds.


Dr Nicholas Apoifis, Lecturer, University of NSW
Russel Baader, Industrial organiser, NTEU, Victoria University
Dr Bea Bleile, Senior Lecturer, University of New England
Associate Professor Andrew Bonnell, University of Queensland
Dr Marty Branagan, Convenor of Peace Studies, University of New England
Professor Marie Brennan, Victoria University
Professor Emeritus Dorothy Bruck, Victoria University
Professor Stuart Bunt, University of Western Australia
Professor Verity Burgmann, Monash University
Associate Professor Damien Cahill, University of Sydney
Dr Stephen Carey, Federation University
Associate Professor Tom Clark, Victoria University
Caspar Cumming, Student Rights Officer, RMIT
Dr Nour Dados, Research Associate, University of Sydney
Associate Professor Robert Day, University of Melbourne
Professor Phillip Deery, Victoria University
Annie Delaney, Senior Lecturer, RMIT
Professor Jamie Doughney, Victoria University
Associate Professor Paul Duckett, Victoria University
Dr Joanne Faulkner, Lecturer, University of NSW
Professor Carole Ferrier, University of Queensland
Robyn Francis, Principal, Permaculture College Australia
Laurel Freeland, Sessional academic, Federation University
Dr Effy George, Victoria University
Dr Anne Graham, Honorary Fellow, Victoria University
Dr Sarah Gregson, NTEU branch president, University of NSW
Heather Gridley, Honorary Fellow, Victoria University
Professor Michele Grossman, Victoria University
Dr Peter Groves, Senior Lecturer, Monash University
Professor Fiona Haines, University of Melbourne
Trish Hayes, Victoria University
Associate Professor Carol Hulbert, University of Melbourne
Dr Terry Irving, Honorary professorial fellow, University of Wollongong
Dr Denise Johnstone, Lecturer, University of Melbourne
Mark G.E. Kelly, Senior Lecturer, Western Sydney University
Kathleen Keogh, Lecturer, Federation University
Dr Julie Kimber, Senior Lecturer, Swinburne University of Technology
Nicholas Kimberley, Student Progress Coordinator, Monash University
Associate Professor Linda Kouvaras, University of Melbourne
Dr Leo Kretzenbacher, Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne
Dr Riki Lane, Research Fellow, Monash University
Dr Siew Fang Law, Victoria University
Dr Gina Lennox, Research Fellow, Charles Sturt University
Dr Colin Long, Secretary, NTEU (Victoria)
Sandra Lucas, Lecturer, La Ttrobe University
Associate Professor David Mackenzie, Swinburne University of Technology
Dr Diarmuid Maguire, University of Sydney
Virginia Mansel Lees, Lecturer, La Trobe University
Dr Daniel Ooi, Research Fellow, Victoria University
Dr Kevin Rowley, Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne
Dr Kerrie Saville, Senior Lecturer, Deakin University
Dr Mark Schier, Senior Lecturer, Swinburne University of Technology
Professor Margaret Sims, NTEU branch president, University of New England
Dr Melissa Slee, NTEU branch president, RMIT
Dr Jeremy Smith, Senior Lecturer, Federation University
Associate Professor Julie Stephens, Victoria University
Dr Mark Stevenson, Honorary Fellow, Victoria University
Dr Jonathan Strauss, NTEU branch president, James Cook University
Adjunct Associate Professor Hussein Tahiri, Victoria University
Dr Gretel Taylor, Research Fellow, Univerity of Melbourne
Michael Thomson, NTEU branch president, University of Sydney
Carl Trotta, Human Resources Business Partner, Federation University
Professor John Tully, Honorary Professor, Victoria University
Professor Ariadne Vromen, University of Sydney
Dr Graham Willett, University of Melbourne
Margarita Windisch, Victoria University
Dr Lew Zipin, Victoria University
Associate Professor Michael Zyphur, University of Melbourne
NTEU , RMIT branch committee, RMIT

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As academics and researchers of this country, we will not be a party to this crime!

The Turkish state has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighborhoods in the Kurdish provinces to hunger through its use of curfews that have been ongoing for weeks. It has attacked these settlements with heavy weapons and equipment that would only be mobilized in wartime. As a result, the right to life, liberty, and security, and in particular the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment protected by the constitution and international conventions have been violated.

This deliberate and planned massacre is in serious violation of Turkey’s own laws and international treaties to which Turkey is a party. These actions are in serious violation of international law.

We demand the state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region. We also demand the state to lift the curfew, punish those who are responsible for human rights violations, and compensate those citizens who have experienced material and psychological damage. For this purpose we demand that independent national and international observers to be given access to the region and that they be allowed to monitor and report on the incidents.

We demand the government to prepare the conditions for negotiations and create a road map that would lead to a lasting peace which includes the demands of the Kurdish political movement. We demand inclusion of independent observers from broad sections of society in these negotiations. We also declare our willingness to volunteer as observers. We oppose suppression of any kind of the opposition.

We, as academics and researchers working on and/or in Turkey, declare that we will not be a party to this massacre by remaining silent and demand an immediate end to the violence perpetrated by the state. We will continue advocacy with political parties, the parliament, and international public opinion until our demands are met.


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