Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Cumhurbaşkanı
(President of the Republic of Turkey)
06560 Beştepe, Ankara, Turkey
cc: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada
Re: Prosecution and persecution of academics
I write to express concern about the ongoing persecution and prosecution of workers in Turkey’s post-secondary education sector. The dismissal, prolonged detentions, criminal charges, and travel restrictions affecting thousands of academic staff are in violation of Turkey’s obligations under domestic and international law.
The UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel sets a standard: “All higher-education teaching personnel should have the right to fulfil their functions without any discrimination of any kind and without fear of repression by the state or any other source.”
The treatment of academic staff in Turkey is undermining the education system and democracy.
I respectfully urge you to:
• ensure the earliest release of detained academic staff, and pending this ensure their well-being in custody, including access to counsel, family, and medical treatment;
• ensure that any proceedings, charges, convictions, dismissals, or other penalties against academic staff stemming from their peaceful exercise of academic freedom and related rights are reversed, and pending this ensure that any such actions observe internationally recognized due process and fair trial standards, in accordance with Turkey’s obligations under international and domestic law;
• lift all travel restrictions so that they may exercise their right to freedom of movement, participate in international academic exchanges, and otherwise pursue their careers, and
• ensure that Turkey honors its international and domestic legal obligations, including under the constitution, to protect academic freedom.
I appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your reply.
cc: The Honorable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada