Sunday, February 26, 2012

GIT - Turkiye -- Press Release

Academics Are Uniting Against Pressures

Prof. Busra Ersanli’s arrest was the last straw

We, academics, convened on Thursday, Feb. 16, at Cezayir Restaurant in Istanbul to initiate the International Work Group for Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey (GITTurkiye).

Joining forces is the first step in the struggle we are determined to wage against the recent escalation of pressures on scientists and intellectuals. The detention of our colleague Prof. Busra Ersanli on unjustified grounds, and her being imprisoned for exactly 108 days now, has played the key role in our mobilization. During these 108 days, politicians have tried to cast public disrepute on Prof. Busra Ersanli through irresponsible statements. Despite her having dedicated her whole life to peace, her name has been associated with terrorism and violence by certain media organizations.

The injustice inflicted on Busra Ersanli is the example that public opinion is most familiar with. It is possible, however, to multiply the examples. Academics and researchers have been subjected to pressures and intimidations that have become widespread over the past few years and have donned various forms. These pressures and intimidations have seriously constrained the intellectual and social conditions of existence of academics, especially of those researching and lecturing on issues that are considered taboo. Academics with dissident and critical approaches are being intimidated via interventions into their field of research, administrative investigations, arbitrary dismissals and limits on budgetary positions. Without doubt, these interventions have an impact that goes beyond universities to affect all of society. At the same time, this state of affairs impedes the emergence of alternative views concerning questions of great urgency in Turkey.

We declare that from now on we will watch over universities and academic activity. From now on, we will watch over our students who are arbitrarily arrested by the judiciary and who are deprived of their status as students because of disciplinary investigations carried out by university administrations. As a network of solidarity formed by over 400 academics from almost 50 universities around Turkey, the International Work Group for Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey (GITTurkiye) will keep track of pressures and impediments of all sorts in universities and struggle against the oppression and hindrances that intellectuals are facing in Turkey.

We are determined to struggle together against obstacles in the way of the free production and dissemination of knowledge.

International Work Group for Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey (GITTurkiye)

What is GITTurkiye?

Founded in France, North America, the UK and Switzerland after Prof. Busra Ersanli’s arrest, the International Work Group for Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey (GIT) was also initiated in Turkey when 13 academics launched a call in January ( More than 400 academics have responded to the call as of date (

The primary aim of the group is to provide information based on documents concerning all sorts of pressure and impediments to which academics, instructors and researchers are subjected, organize conferences, seminars, panels and press briefings on conditions under which education and research are conducted, and publicize these via internet and the press.

For more information: