‘Academics for Peace’ in Turkey: a case of criminalizing dissent and critical thought via counter-terrorism policy

Baser, Bahar, Akgonul, Samim and Öztürk, Ahmet Erdi (2017) ‘Academics for Peace’ in Turkey: a case of criminalizing dissent and critical thought via counter-terrorism policy. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 10 (2). pp. 274-296. ISSN 1753-9153


On 11 January 2016, 1128 academics in Turkey and abroad signed a petition calling on Turkish authorities to cease state violence in mainly Kurdish populated areas of the country, which had been under curfew and an extended state of emergency. The petition received an immediate reaction from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who accused the signatories of treason and terrorist propaganda. He subsequently demanded that public prosecuters launch an investigation. Criminalization of the petition has been exacerbated by disciplinary action by universities against many of the signatories. Many have suffered insults, arrest, detention or suspension as a result of the ensuing smear campaign. This massive crackdown on academic freedom has been masked by discourses of counter-terrorism, which have also been deployed to criminalize dissent more generally in Turkey as a part of a process of rapid ‘democratic retrenchment’ since 2013. This article is an attempt to put the criminalization of academics within the larger framework of human rights violations, increasing curtailments of academic freedom and rising authoritarianism in Turkey. It argues that the prosecution of the signatories of the petition is an extension of an established tradition of targeting academic freedom in times of political crisis in Turkey but is also a product of growing authoritarianism under the ruling party and President Erdoğan. It shows that counter-terrorism laws can be extended way beyond eliminating security threats by instrumentalizing them to suppress dissent in a declining democracy.

Academics-for-Peace-in-Turkey_10th-anniversary-special-issue_21-April.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (1MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

View Item View Item