Academics renew call for boycott of Turkish universities

The Academics for Peace group has renewed calls for a boycott of academic institutions linked to the Turkish state.

This comes after two of its members were incarcerated in May. Füsun Üstel and Tuna Altinel were the first of 189 academics to be imprisoned for signing a petition in 2016

The petition called on the Turkish government “to end the war in the Kurdish region, seek a peaceful resolution of the decades-long Kurdish question, and allow international observers to monitor the situation in Kurdish towns and cities destroyed by security forces.” It was signed by over 2,000 academics.

The Kurdish region of Turkey has faced an ongoing conflict between Turkish forces and the Kurdish Workers’ Party, a militant organisation demanding Kurdish autonomy, since the breakdown of their ceasefire in July 2015.

In 2016, Amnesty International reported that the Turkish government had instigated an “onslaught on Kurdish towns and neighbourhoods”, which included round-the-clock curfews and cuts to services and which “amounts to collective punishment.”

Signatories of the 2016 petition say that they have faced a “lynching campaign” for protesting about Turkey’s actions, including multiple waves of criminal and administrative investigations, detentions, passport revocations and travel bans, denial of pension rights, and exclusion from the labour market through blacklisting of national insurance numbers. 

Government-approved academic dismissals were said to have reached 5,295 as of April 2017.

The boycott calls on all higher education institutions, funding councils, academic and professional associations, and individual faculty members to boycott the Turkish higher education system and complicit institutions.

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