Thursday, March 24, 2016

Messages and Letters of Arrested Academics - and Interview with Dr. Meral Camci in Science

Message from Drs Ersoy and Kaya’s lawyer who saw them earlier today (March 24): "they are sending their greetings and thanks to everyone. They expressed that they are under very strict solitary confinement, they are kept in two separate rooms, each big enough for three persons, they are not allowed to see each other or other inmates, all of their books are confiscated with the promise of giving them back later, there is nothing in the room except a notebook and a pencil, when they were first transferred to Silivri [Prison yesterday], they were treated with utter disregard for dignity, they were strip searched and forced to wait naked for 20 minutes, their first demand is to be allowed to stay in the same cell."

The statements Drs. Mungan, Ersoy and Kaya gave to CHP [Republican People's Party] Parliamentarians' Prison Inspection Commission who visited them on Monday, March 21

Esra Mungan (Boğaziçi University): “(...) I am staying in solitary confinement under the same conditions as inmates sentenced to heavy life imprisonment. During the interrogation they asked me the 14 questions mentioned in Akşam newspaper [earlier translated by GIT – NA here]. They claimed I received instructions from KCK. A true academic never receives instructions from anyone. This is exactly the reason we are against Higher Education Council [YÖK]. We find it unacceptable to carry out any instructions. That is why we are struggling against YÖK, we want to govern ourselves [as academic institutions] (...) For the first time in my life I spent 50 hours without reading any books. It was psychological torture for me to be left without books. (...) The thing that’s in my mind most is the course-work for my students. I have 54 students. I’m giving a course on Memory. I miss the course I’m giving most. (...) I was able to rest physically but I am greatly disturbed psychologically. I used to go to the university at 8 am and I used to turn off the lights [when I was the last to leave]. What’s important to note is that my students are being deprived of their right to education. I cannot tutor my thesis students, their right to education is taken away. I was teaching a course for 13 Masters’ students. It was fun, now they must feel abandoned. (...) I studied in Germany from age 2.5 until 15. They were constantly teaching about the atrocities of the Nazi period and how awful things were during that period. Through the education I received I learned to be able to ‘say no’ even when the majority of the society says ‘yes’. Everyone was saying ‘yes’ in Hitler Germany but eventually all the wrongs were uncovered. I am reminded of Germany during Hitler period when I think of the present period. Freedom of thought is important, I will never do anything I don’t believe in. I was working on and caring for problems of people from all walks of life; I advocated for the rights of subcontractors and the outsourced jobs at the university.”

Kıvanç Ersoy (Mimar Sinan University): “I’ve heard my students are saying ‘Professor Ersoy would not give even Fail grades how can he be a terrorist?’. Well, we’re here in jail because we demanded peace. We’re here because we read a press statement. In our struggle for democracy Metris Prison is just one transit stop. And sometimes you need to spend more time in some stops. When we witnessed the last explosion we thought maybe this is a safer place to be. (...) And they are accusing us for not making statements against the PKK. Fascism is not the prohibition of speech, it is the obligation to say things (...) We are not in prison for the things we’ve said but for the things we’ve not said. We’re put in jail to please President Erdogan. This is what happens in a country where there is no culture of democracy. They had subpoenaed Charlie Chaplin to testify in the McCarthy era and asked “are you a communist?’ He refused to answer. In his memoirs 30 years later, he wrote: ‘I was not a communist but it was an insult to ask me that, that’s why I refused to answer.’ 

Muzaffer Kaya (Nişantaşı University): “2200 academics signed the petition and they have arrested only us. We did not make the statement on behalf of everyone. The statement was made on behalf of ‘Academics for Peace – Istanbul’. There is no reference to self-government in our statement. I do not regret signing. They have concluded that we are making propaganda for the terrorist organization because we did not criticize and made no mention of PKK and because we criticized the state. The Rector of our University supported us but since then he resigned. Including me they fired 6 faculty from Nişantaşı University.” 

Meral Camcı (Yeni Yüzyıl University): Dr. Camcı who had traveled to France on vacation just days before the arrest order was issued against the four academics reading the press release, described the persecution of academics signing the peace petition as a witch-hunt in an interview she gave to Science Magazine (of American Association for the Advancement of Science). Dr. Camcı noted "the witch hunt [is] carried out with dismissals, forced resignations, and disciplinary investigations. I am not afraid of anyone or any institution to use my constitutionally guaranteed human rights: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of thought, and my right to share and publish my peaceful demands."

Source: Translations of the excepts from the statements Drs. Mungan, Ersoy and Kaya are based on the CHP Parliamentarians' Prison Inspection Commission Report as reported in Evrensel newspaper, on March 24, 2016