Open letter from the international academic community in support of Academics for Peace

We, the undersigned academics, condemn the ongoing persecution by the Turkish government of our colleagues in Turkish universities. We stand in solidarity with the signatories of the 2016 Peace Petition entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” denouncing the government’s violations of human rights in the Kurdish provinces. Charged with spreading “terrorist propaganda”, these academics now face the threat of years of imprisonment for criticizing state violence. Their prosecution is a dangerous attempt to silence the voices of those who would defend peace, and a grievous breach of the principle of academic freedom. We call for the termination of the trials and the reinstatement of academics to their university positions. We echo the call from our Turkish colleagues for academics to show their solidarity by joining delegations to Turkey as international observers at the trials and by sending financial support.

The petition was signed by 1128 academics in January 2016 and made the following demands: that the state’s military assault on its citizens should cease, including ending the current regime of deportations and curfews; that access to the targeted areas be granted to independent national and international observers; and that negotiations should resume to secure a lasting peace, incorporating the demands of the Kurdish national movement. Those who signed the statement have come under sustained attack from the state. They have been placed under investigation, imprisoned, put into solitary confinement, dismissed from their employment as professors and students have been expelled from universities.Most recently, several signatories to the petition have been brought before the Istanbul High Criminal Court, charged with producing and disseminating “terrorist propaganda”. If convicted, these academics face up to seven and a half years of imprisonment. As of December 2017 charges have been filed against at least one in ten of the signatories. Indictments have been brought against the academics on an individual basis by the Istanbul Public Chief Prosecutor’s Office and the court hearings are distributed over several months, in a clear bid to quash a united resistance by dissidents speaking with one voice.We regard this latest assault on dissent as further evidence of worrying authoritarianism in Turkey, and we admire those who speak out for democratic values and the rights of minorities. We believe it is of the utmost importance that academics, and all those who champion freedom of thought, stand together in solidarity when speech is curtailed by the power it seeks to criticize. It is not only the liberty of the accused that is now at stake; free inquiry and robust debate, the pursuit of peace and the possibility of a less repressive future are all on trial in Turkey. We stand with the defendants.

(As of December 12, 2017)
  • Lila Abu-Lughod, Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science, Columbia University
  • Ad Aertsen, Member Of Leopoldina, German National Academy Of Sciences, Professor Of Neurobiology And Biophysics, University Of Freiburg, Germany
  • Philip Anderson, Nobel Laureate (Physics 1977), Princeton University
  • Peter Balakian, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Colgate University
  • Marlene Behrmann, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, University Professor Of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University
  • John Boothroyd, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor, Stanford University
  • Bill Bowring, Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London; Barrister of Gray’s Inn
  • Wilfried Brutsaert, Member of the National Academy of Engineering, William Lewis Professor of Engineering, Cornell University
  • Jed Buchwald, MacArthur Fellow, Dreyfuss Professor of History, CaltechJudith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  • Mark Cane, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, G. Unger Vetlesen Professor (Emeritus), Columbia University
  • Kipp Cannon, Associate Professor, University Of Tokyo
  • John Carlson, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, Higgins Professor Of Molecular, Cellular And Developmental Biology, Yale University
  • Daniel Carpenter, Member of the National Academy of Public Administration, Allie S. Freed Professor of Government, Harvard UniversityDavid Ceperley, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Founder Professor of Physics, University of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignMartin Chalfie, Nobel Laureate (Chemistry 2008), University Professor, Columbia UniversityPartha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, Columbia UniversityNoam Chomsky, Institute Professor (Emeritus), MIT; Laureate Professor, University of ArizonaJohn Collier, Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology (Emeritus), Harvard Medical SchoolJonathan Crary, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Columbia UniversityHamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia UniversitySeth Darst, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Jack Fishman Professor, Laboratory Of Molecular Biophysics, The Rockefeller UniversityAniruddha Das, Professor of Neuroscience, Columbia UniversityMiriam Diamond, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Professor, University of TorontoJohn Dowling, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, Gordon and Llura Gund Professor of Neurosciences, Harvard UniversityVladimir Drinfeld, Fields Medalist (1990), Professor Of Mathematics, University Of ChicagoJohn Dugard, Emeritus Professor of Public International Law, University of LeidenDan Fagin, Pulitzer Prize Winner (General Nonfiction, 2014), Professor of Journalism, New York UniversityRachel Giora, Professor of Linguistics, Tel Aviv UniversityNigel Goldenfeld, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Swanlund Endowed Professor of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignFred Gould, Member of the National Academy Of Sciences, University Distinguished Professor of Evolutionary Biology, North Carolina State UniversityNorma Graham, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Centennial Professor, Department of Psychology, Columbia UniversityVictoria de Grazia, Moore Collegiate Professor of History, Columbia UniversityWilly Haeberli, Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences, Professor Of Physics (Emeritus), University Of Wisconsin-MadisonMichael Harris, Professor of Mathematics, Columbia UniversityMarianne Hirsch, William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia UniversityRoald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate (Chemistry 1981), Professor Emeritus, Cornell UniversityJean Howard, George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, Columbia UniversityAndreas Huyssen, Villard Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature, Columbia UniversityRashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies and Literature, Columbia UniversityDavid Klein, Professor of Mathematics, California State University NorthridgeMalcolm Levitt, Fellow of the Royal Society, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of SouthamptonLydia Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities, Columbia UniversityDavid Lloyd, Distinguished Professor of English, University of California RiversideEric Maskin, Nobel Laureate (Economics 2007), Professor Of Economics And Mathematics, Harvard UniversityBrinkley Messick, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia UniversityKen Miller, Professor of Neuroscience, Columbia UniversityTimothy Mitchell, William B Ransford Professor of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, Columbia UniversityRosalind Morris, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia UniversityDavid Mumford, Fields Medallist (1974), MacArthur Fellow, University Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics, Brown UniversityFrederick Neuhouser, Professor of Philosophy and Viola Manderfeld Professor of German, Barnard College, Columbia UniversityIlan Pappe, Professor of History, University of ExeterElizabeth A. Povinelli, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology, Professor, Anthropology & Gender Studies, Columbia UniversityBruce Robbins, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia UniversityDavid Rosner, Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Sociomedical Science and Professor of History, Columbia UniversityRandy Schekman, Nobel Laureate (Physiology/Medicine 2013), Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, BerkeleyMichael Shadlen, Professor of Neuroscience, Columbia UniversityTim Shallice, Fellow of the Royal Society, Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College LondonStephen Smale, Fields Medallist (1966), Professor of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Kyoto Laureate (Art and Philosophy 2012), University Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
  • Jack Szostak, Nobel Laureate (Physiology/Medicine 2009), Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Karen Van Dyck, Kimon A. Doukas Professor of Modern Greek, Columbia University
  • Harold Varmus, Nobel Laureate (Physiology/Medicine 1989), University Professor, Cornell University

Link to the open letter:

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