Friday, September 20, 2013

Violence Victim Academician Faces Trial

As Bianet reports, Osman Erden, our colleague and assistant professor at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University who was detained and subjected to police violence in downtown Istanbul during Gezi Resistance, was ordered to stand trial for “resisting police officers and attending an illegal demonstration” with an indictment issued today. Erden is facing prison sentence up to 3 years.

ISTANBUL - Ayça Söylemez, Bianet News Desk  

Osman Erden, an assistant professor of art history at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (MSGSÜ) who was detained and subjected to police violence in downtown Istanbul during Gezi Resistance, was ordered to stand trial for “resisting police officers and attending an illegal demonstration”.

Erden told Bianet that his complaint on the assaulting policemen has yet to yield any results.  

“I was lucky”

On July 14, Erden was detained in downtown Istanbul by the police during a press statement of TMMOB - Architects and Engineers Chambers Union of Turkey. 

Released the day after, he had told Bianet the following: “Police attacks began even before I got there. Scorpions [a police vehicle] were roaming. Rubber bullets hit me first. I found refuge at a friend’s cafe. When I took the street again, I was attacked by 10-15 policemen. Those wounds and swellings in my lips and head were caused by those policemen.”

As police took me to police detention van, Erden had said, I shouted my name and teaching position at MSGSÜ. “I was assaulted on the way to the police van, too. But no assaults took place after the detention.” 

“I was taken to Taksim Ilk Yardim Hospital. But I wasn’t admitted there, maybe because it was full. I was then taken to Kasımpaşa Police Station and Haseki Hospital. They didn’t give my medical report there.”

Erden told Bianet that MSGSÜ President and Sociology Department Dean was waiting for him at the police station when he was taken there on the night of July 14, 2013. 

“I wouldn’t be out so quickly if it weren’t for the President and Dean. Volunteer lawyers  from Istanbul Bar Association were also of great help. I was lucky, but some people are not as lucky as I am.”

First trial on February 25 

Along with other detainees Gökhan İrez, Okan Ersoy, Onur Karataş, Gökhan Tanrıverdi and Şevket Tokdabayev, Erden was ordered to stand trial at Istanbul 40th Assize Court on February 25, 2014. 

Issued by prosecutor Zeynel Sarıbuğa, the case indictment accused defendants for “attending an illegal protest” according to Turkey’s Demonstration Law (No:2911) Article 32. (AS/BM)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Petition: Academic Freedom is Our Freedom!

Eleven Research Assistants who work in the Faculty of Communication at Marmara University in Turkey – and who are also members of Egitim-Sen (Education and Science Workers’ Union) – participated in a KESK (Confederation of Public Workers’ Unions) strike action held on June 4 and 5, 2013. As a result of this participation, disciplinary proceedings by the Rector of Marmara University against these assistants were initiated. In addition to these proceedings, the number of proceedings on 15 different Research Assistants reached at 25 for 2 years since Prof. Dr. Yusuf Devran had taken up the position as the Dean of Faculty of Communication.

The right to participate in collective action as decided by the unions of which public workers are members is recognized in the Convention on Human Rights, the Constitution as well as administrative judicial decisions taken by European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Thus, the strike action held by Egitim-Sen, of which all 11 Research Assistants are members, was not a criminal act, but, rather, it was an action guaranteed by both union and democratic rights.

In response to the press statement issued by Istanbul University Branch of Egitim-Sen, Prof. Dr. Yusuf Devran declared the strike action held by KESK to be unlawful, and stated that the 11 Marmara Research Assistants should be punished because they attended a legal strike action. Thus, Prof. Dr. Yusuf Devran’s statement was in direct contradiction to the Convention on Human Rights, the Constitution and the administrative judicial decisions reached by the European Court of Human Rights.

According to the statement issued by Prof. Dr. Yusuf Devran, the strike action was not about personal responsibility, nor individual rights and freedoms. The action was held simply in order to protest nation-wide police violence committed during Gezi Park demonstrations, in addition to KESK’s call for “Living in Dignity, Guaranteed Jobs and the Future”. These 11 Research Assistants were made scapegoats in an academic witch-hunt (linked to the Gezi Park demonstrations) taking place throughout Turkey. Other instances include disciplinary proceedings against 4 scholars at Tunceli University for having taken part in the strike action, and another disciplinary proceeding against Asst. Prof. Dr. Timuçin Köprülü, who criticized police violence in a speech given at the Uludağ University graduation ceremony.

We, the undersigned citizens, due to our academic, professional and humanitarian responsibilities, call upon the Marmara University Rectorship to withdraw these unlawful proceedings which have the hallmarks of an attack upon freedom of speech and assembly; to call upon Prof. Dr. Yusuf Devran, the Dean of Faculty of Communication, to cease preventing academic staff from exercising their constitutional, democratic and union rights; and, finally, to end the use of abusive investigations as a tool for intimidating Research Assistants (and other staff).

Because academic freedom means our freedom!


Noam Chomsky (MIT); Judith Butler (University of California at Berkeley); Nancy Fraser (New School for Social Research); Michael Löwy, Gerard Chaouat, and Gérard Groc (CNRS);  Vincent Mosco (Queen's University); Dan Schiller (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); David Laibman (City University of New York); Enzo Traverso (Cornell University); Claude Calame and Jérôme Baschet (EHESS); Gazi Çağlar (HAWK Hildesheim); Erol Gelenbe (Imperial College London); Joan W.  Scott (Institute for Advanced Study); Kostas Skordoulis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens); Terrence McDonough (National University of Ireland Galway); Martine Boudet (Réseau scientifique TERRA); Helmut Dahmer (Austria); Christian Christensen (Stockholm University); Adela Franzé Mudano (Universidad Complutense de Madrid); Nestor Kohan (Universidad de Buenos Aires); Christian Haasen (Universität Hamburg); Christoph Schroeder (Universität Potsdam); Samy Johsua (Université Aix Marseille); Sophie Dushesne (Université de Nanterre);  Gilles Frapper (Université de Poitiers); Francois Gaudi (Université de Rouen); Leo Glangetas (Université de Rouen); Jean-Philippe Heurtin (Université de Strasbourg);  Xavier Lambert (Université de Toulouse II-Le Mirail); Daniel Thin and Olivier Neveux (Université Lyon 2); Eleni Varikas and Fabien Granjon (Université Paris 8); Bernard Gerbier (Université Pierre-Mendès-France de Grenoble); Clément Mouhot (University of Cambridge); Alfredo Saad Filho, Gilbert Achcar, and Nadje Al-Ali (University of London); Korkut Alp Ertürk (University of Utah); Okan Külköylüoğlu (Abant İzzet Baysal Üniversitesi); Gülser Kayır (Akdeniz Üniversitesi); Aykut Çoban, Emine Gül Kapçı, Gülay Toksöz, Işıl Ünal, Selda Öndül, Tülin Öngen, Baskın Oran (emer.), and D. Beybin Kejanlıoğlu (emer.) (Ankara Üniversitesi); Levent Köker (Atılım Üniversitesi); Ali Baykal and Zeynep Tül Akbal Sualp (Bahçeşehir Üniversitesi); Timur Karaçay (Başkent Üniversitesi); Cemal Bâli Akal and Sibel İnceoglu (Bilgi Üniversitesi); Ersan Demiralp, Kuban Altinel, and Nermin Abadan Unat (Boğaziçi Üniversitesi); Nurçay Türkoğlu and Yunus Emre Evlice (Çukurova Üniversitesi); A. Kadir Özer (emer.)(Doğuş Üniversitesi); Nihayet Bizsel, O. Alp Ergör, Semih Çelenk, and Yeşim Edis Şahin (Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi); Türkan Süren (emer.) (Ege Üniversitesi); Ahmet İnsel, Füsun Üstel, Tolga Yarman, Yasemin İnceoğlu, and Özden Cankaya (emer.) (Galatasaray Üniversitesi); Hakan Mıhcı and Simten Coşar (Hacettepe Üniversitesi); Ferhat Kentel (İstanbul Şehir Üniversitesi); Ayşe Şentürer, Belkıs Uluoğlu, Cengizhan İpbüker, Ergin Tarı, Hayrünnisa Dinçer Ateşok, Ayse Erzan (emer.), and  Mahmut Hortaçsu (emer.) (İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi); Ayşe Güler Eroğlu, Cihan Demirci Tansel, Fatmagül Berktay, Meral Kızıltan, Mihriban Özbaşaran, Özgür Kasapçopur, Raşit Tükel, Tahsin Yeşildere , Tamer Demiralp, Tülay Erkan, Gençay Gürsoy (emer.), and Şahika Yūksel (emer.) (İstanbul Üniversitesi); Cem Pekman, Kuvvet Lordoğlu, and Onur Hamzaoğlu (Kocaeli Üniversitesi); Billur Yaltı (Koç Üniversitesi); Ayşe Durakbaşa, Nihal Saban, Şükran Kuyucak Esen, and Ayla Zirh Gursoy (emer.) (Marmara Üniversitesi); Çetin Veysal (Mersin Üniversitesi); Eren Deniz Tol (Muğla Üniversitesi); Ramazan Aşcı and Ayşe Gözen (emer.) (Ondokuz Mayıs Üniversitesi); Çağlar Güven, Göksel N. Demirer, Semih Bilgen, and Yalçın Göğüş (Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi); Sibel Irzık (Sabancı Üniversitesi); Kemal Gözler (Uludağ Üniversitesi); Ahmet Sipahioğlu (Yaşar Üniversitesi); Elçin Macar, Esra Danacioglu Tamur, Fulya Atacan, and Meryem Koray (Yıldız Teknik Üniversitesi).

The full list of signatures is available here.

To sign the petition please send an e-mail to with your name, surname, profession and organization. Deadline is 11th September 2013.