APA Endorses Letter of Concern for Scholars & Universities in Turkey


In response to the recent persecution of academics in Turkey who had objected to the Turkish government’s treatment of its Kurdish population (previously here and here), a “coalition of 20 higher education networks and associations from around the world” issued a letter to Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, calling for an end to the persecution, for protection of scholars, and for a reaffirmation of “Turkey’s commitment to the essential values of higher education and research, including academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association,” among other things. Among the signatories is the American Philosophical Association (APA).

The APA has issued a press release about the letter:

NEWARK, Del. — Jan. 25, 2016 — In a unanimous vote, the board of officers of the American Philosophical Association (APA) has endorsed the letter of concern issued by the Scholars at Risk (SAR) Network in response to threats to academic freedom in Turkey. The letter, coordinated on behalf of a global coalition of more than 20 higher education networks and associations, expresses concern about “reports of widespread pressures on members of the Turkish higher education and research community, including investigations, arrests, interrogations, suspensions and termination of positions.”

In retaliation for signing a petition imploring authorities to renew dialogue efforts with factions in the southeastern Turkey, approximately 1,128 professors and researchers have been placed under investigation, and many have already been suspended or terminated from their academic positions. Such retaliation against nonviolent expression of views on matters of professional and public concern violates internationally recognized standards of academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association.

Cheshire Calhoun, chair of the APA’s board of officers, said, “It is extremely disturbing that Turkish academics have been subjected to severe governmental and university pressures, including detention and criminal investigations, for doing exactly what one might hope that any academic would do—protest the violation of basic rights protected by one’s country’s constitution and international conventions.”

The APA has a longstanding commitment to defend the professional rights of philosophers. The board’s opposition to the threats facing scholars in Turkey is in keeping with the APA’s broader support for philosophers whose professional rights are at risk.

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