Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On the Case of Pınar Selek

Transnational Work Group on Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey, North America Branch (GIT North America) was formed in response to the escalating and systematic assault on freedom of thought, freedom of research, and freedom of expression in Turkey. In keeping with its mission, GIT-North America has been following with grave concern the case of sociologist-writer Pinar Selek, who was accused of aiding and abetting in the Spice Market bombing of 1998, as well as being a member of the illegal PKK--claims apparently put forth by one person's testimony provided under duress, retracted at court and challenged by multiple expert accounts. On Thursday, November 22, the Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court has revoked the final ruling of Selek's acquittal. 

GIT-North America is mindful of the fact that the case involving Selek dates back to 1998, and that Selek has been acquitted three times, yet her acquittal has been repeatedly overturned. Continuing with the cycle of acquittals and re-trials, the process has made Selek the researcher an intimidating example to all those who may conduct research into “undesirable” topics, thereby demarcating stringently the boundaries of free expression and academic inquiry in Turkey. This cycle has also turned the trials themselves into a punitive experience for Selek the defendant, thereby violating her civil rights. (For more on Selek's detainment and the court process, please visit http://www.pinarselek.com/public/page_item.aspx?id=1463)

As students and professors working in diverse fields, including Ottoman and Turkish Studies in North America, we are profoundly distressed by Selek’s treatment and we stand in solidarity with her academic rights to peacefully conduct research and her individual right to a just closure to this case.