Letter from Philosophers Supporting Öymen

The actions of the present government to persecute Professor Öymen, using an ill-conceived law, applied inappropriately, endangers the standing Turkey now enjoys with the international philosophical community…

[Philosophers] are accustomed to offering and receiving blunt criticism. The freedom to do so is a necessary condition for philosophical activity, and even more, part of the academic freedom that has allowed modern universities to flourish. Indeed, it is part of authentic adult interactions. Nobody enjoys receiving criticisms—or insults—but fully mature people can tolerate them, while protecting, even celebrating the freedom to utter them. Professor Öymen’s criticisms are clearly well within the pale of the speech encouraged by developed civil societies. But even if they constituted insults, the correct response would be more speech, not using the weight of the legal apparatus to attempt (unsuccessfully) to repress it. Article 299 should be repealed; until it is, it should not be applied. We call on the government of Turkey to do both.

The above is from an open letter of support, created by Amy Schmitter (Alberta), for philosophers to sign protesting the Turkish government’s prosecution of Örsan Öymen.

She writes:

There have been a lot of letters about the appalling attacks on academic freedom and conscience in Turkey, but I thought that it might make some sense to have a philosophy-specific one particularly directed at supporting Örsan. Turkey has developed a lively and very international philosophical scene over the last two decades or so, and Örsan has done a lot to make it that way.

The letter is here. Anyone with a philosophical identity or affiliation may sign. To do so, scroll to the last number on the list to leave your name, position, and affiliation, and then hit enter to add a new line.

Schmitter adds:

Along with my affiliation, I added a mention of my participation in one of Orsan’s events. I thought it might be a nice touch; perhaps others will want to add such info too. But my guess is that Turkish nationals (or even residents) should not sign (I have advised our Turkish students against it), since they are in a vulnerable position. Of course, it’s every person’s own call. If anybody has suggestions about dissemination (besides the usual suspects), I would welcome suggestions. I would also welcome creative (preferably neo-Dadaist) ideas about how to up the ante on the protest. BTW, I may be able to have the letter translated into Turkish. 

Again, the link to the letter is here. Please share the link to the letter in your professional networks.


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8 years ago

Please spell Professor Öymen’s name correctly in this letter of support!

Ori Milstein
Ori Milstein
8 years ago

There are three things missing in my opinion in this statement:

1. A word about the necessity of free speech, not only to philosophical and academic endeavor, but also to the over-all well being, freedom and functioning of civil societies.

2. A word about the context of this affair, it being just one more step in Turkey’s obvious and saddening decline, by a dark regime into darker days.

3. This is most probably, and, indeed demonstratively, not an ill-conceived law.

Amy Schmitter
Amy Schmitter
8 years ago

It seems that a few people who wanted to sign the letter have experienced difficulties. My apologies for any problems! (But for those who want to know, this DIY system of using the sharing function for Google Docs seems to work fairly well.) To add your name, simply scroll to the end and type it in: it should then appear as if it is an editorial comment, with font in a different color. I can then approve it as an addition. If you meant to sign, please do check to see that your name has appeared on the list (in any color). If it fails to appear, please let me know your name and address by email. I would prefer not letting my email loose into the wilds of cyperspace, but it is available from the department website at the University of Alberta website (http://www.philosophy.ualberta.ca/People.aspx). Thanks for helping out with this project. (I have, by the way, corrected spelling errors, errors for which I blame autocorrect. But the text remains the same — as it must after people have started to sign.)