Dear Friends and Colleagues in North America,
We are writing to invite you to participate in a collaborative effort to address growing violations of academic freedom in Turkey, whereby larger problems with freedom of expression and association are crystallized. Threats to the free pursuit of academic research, teaching, translation, and publication in Turkey have intensified especially since 2009. The rights to freedom of expression and association are increasingly violated through repressive governmental measures, giving rise to what PEN American Center President Kwame Anthony Appiah has recently characterized as “a decline in the climate of free expression in Turkey after several years of hopeful developments.” Under the pretext of counter-terrorism operations, countless academics, students, translators, lawyers, and journalists have been arbitrarily arrested, putting severe pressures on academic liberty and freedom of research.
While the Republic of Turkey is portrayed as a democratic model to follow in the context of the Arab Spring, the current predicament of academic, civil, and political liberties in Turkey reveals that such promotions are misleading. Within the context of popular democratic aspirations that are proliferating across the Mediterranean, we feel that there is a growing need to create venues for sharing information and producing research regarding the authoritarian threats to intellectual activity in Turkey.
Inspired by the call of our colleagues in France who have constituted Groupe International de Travail, GIT, we have decided to form the North American node of a transnational working group that aims to raise awareness and offer documentation on “Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey.”
Hence, our invitation: please consider joining our efforts in GIT-North America, which is currently in the process of articulating its goals and scope. If interested, you could reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and join our growing network. If you prefer to just follow our work, please visit GIT-North America’s blog and "like" GIT Initiative's Facebook page.
We would also like to remind you that GIT Initiative in France will make public on January 1, 2012 a new list of colleagues worldwide who have added their signatures to the inaugural declaration for Academic Liberty and Freedom of Expression in Turkey. If you wish to sign the declaration, GIT website includes practical information and addresses for your reference. An expanded list of signatures will be published on January 15, 2012.
Associate Professor of History, and Religious Studies
University of California, Davis
The Sexualities Project at Northwestern
Sociology & Gender Studies