International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies has made a public statement on Monday, July 25th, 2016, concerning the situation of Turkish academics following the attempted military coup on July 15.
Members of the H.R. Network’s Executive Committee state their concern about the increasingly repressive measures being taken against Turkish academics. In the days since the attempted coup, the travel of academics has been restricted, Turkish academics abroad have been instructed to return to Turkey, more than 1,500 deans at universities throughout the country have been asked to tender their resignations, and hundreds of academics have been suspended from their posts. These actions have taken place against the backdrop of a wider societal crackdown, which has included mass arrests, suspensions, and dismissals from state institutions. Reports indicate that, already, tens of thousands of such actions have taken place.
Executive Committee recognizes the protection of national security unquestionably as a legitimate objective, but states that it should not be achieved at the expense of fundamental human rights or through sweeping attacks on the principle of academic freedom. Turkish authorities have formally declared a three-month state of emergency, which may allow Turkey to derogate from certain of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) during the emergency period. However, Turkey remains obligated under the ECHR to ensure that any restrictions placed on individual rights are both “strictly required by the exigencies of the situation” and proportionate.
Members of the H.R. Network’s Executive Committee have called for the government of Turkey to ensure that all measures taken in the interest of security are consistent with Turkey’s obligation under international human rights law.