Turkey is an emerging global power, with a rich history, key geographical location, and significant economic strengths. At the same time, the country is now experiencing a major political crisis. After the attempted coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has launched a wide-ranging purge of its political opponents in academia, the police, the military, and education. More than 100,000 people have been purged from their jobs. This issue has become so serious that the E.U. has temporarily ceased its accession talks, which has led to a powerful backlash from Turkey. In response to the EU’s decisions, Erdoğan has threatened to abandon a Turkish deal with the EU regarding refugees.
Certainly, the coup was a horrifying event, in which over 300 people died. The coup plotters sought to overthrow a democracy through violence, and the government had to respond. Nonetheless, the extent of the current repression has attracted criticism from academic and human rights organizations, nation-states, and the European Union. Today the International Studies Association (ISA) sent an email to all ISA members regarding the case of Dr Sedat Laciner, Professor of International Relations and Rector of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. Dr. Laciner is currently imprisoned on terrorism charges that he denies. The ISA email shared his statement, “I don’t know how long they will keep me in prison,” which conveys his version of why he was arrested. Similarly, novelists, magazine editors, and journalists have been swept up in the arrests and purge. In this context, the ISA has issued a statement regarding Academic Freedom in Turkey, where academics now face restrictions on travel and professional work, as well as the fear of arrest.
Shawn Smallman, 2016