‘Academics for Peace’ in Turkey: A Case of Criminalizing Dissent and Critical Thought via Counter-Terrorism Policy

Bahar Baser, Samim Akgonul, Ahmet Erdi Ozturk

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    50 Citations (Scopus)
    160 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    On 11 January 2016, 1128 academics in Turkey and abroad signed a petition calling on Turkish authorities to cease state violence in mainly Kurdish populated areas of the country, which had been under curfew and an extended state of emergency. The petition received an immediate reaction from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who accused the signatories of treason and terrorist propaganda. He subsequently demanded that public prosecuters launch an investigation. Criminalization of the petition has been exacerbated by disciplinary action by universities against many of the signatories. Many have suffered insults, arrest, detention or suspension as a result of the ensuing smear campaign. This massive crackdown on academic freedom has been masked by discourses of counter-terrorism, which have also been deployed to criminalize dissent more generally in Turkey as a part of a process of rapid ‘democratic retrenchment’ since 2013. This article is an attempt to put the criminalization of academics within the larger framework of human rights violations, increasing curtailments of academic freedom and rising authoritarianism in Turkey. It argues that the prosecution of the signatories of the petition is an extension of an established tradition of targeting academic freedom in times of political crisis in Turkey but is also a product of growing authoritarianism under the ruling party and President Erdoğan. It shows that counter-terrorism laws can be extended way beyond eliminating security threats by instrumentalizing them to suppress dissent in a declining democracy. Publisher Statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Studies on Terrorism on 22nd May 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17539153.2017.1326559
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)274-296
    Number of pages23
    JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
    Volume10
    Issue number2
    Early online date22 May 2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Studies on Terrorism on 22nd May 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17539153.2017.1326559

    Keywords

    • Academics for Peace
    • turkey
    • academic freedom
    • kurdish question

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