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7,000 papers gone missing: the short-term effects of the large-scale purges carried out by the AKP government on the research output of Turkey-based academics
By Freedom for Academia (FfA) collaborators, with input from Prof. Neşe Özgen and *Assoc. Prof. Candan Badem
Raporun Türkçe özeti
AKP hükümeti “15 Temmuz 2016 darbe girişimi”nden sonra Kanun Hükmünde Kararname (KHK)’lerle sekiz bini aşkın akademisyen işsiz kaldı. Bu akademisyenlerin arasında Prof. Dr. Öget Öktem-Tanör (Nöropsikoloji), Prof. Dr. Sedat Laçiner (Siyaset Bilimi), Prof. Dr. Mehmet Altan (Ekonomi), Prof. Dr. İbrahim Kaboğlu (Anayasa Hukuku), Prof. Ömer Geçici (Psikiyatri), Prof. İştar Gözaydın (Sosyoloji), Prof. Cem Terzi (Genel Cerrahi), Prof. Dr. A. Özdemir Aktan (Genel Cerrahi), Prof. Dr. Melek Göregenli (Sosyal Psikoloji), Prof. Dr. Ayşe Gül Yılgör (Iktisadi ve Idari bilimler), Prof. Dr. Haluk A. Savaş (Psikiyatri) ve Prof. Dr. Ayşegül Jale Saraç (Fizik tedavi ve Rehabilitasyon) gibi kendi bilim dallarında saygınlık kazanmış bilim insanları da yer alıyor. İşten çıkarılan akademik personel sayısı, toplam akademisyenlerin %6’sı gibi önemli bir orana tekabül ediyor.
Freedom for Academia (FfA) olarak yayınladığımız bu kısa raporda, Türkiye’nin akademik ve bilimsel araştırmalarına bu %6’lık oranın açıklayabileceğinden çok daha ciddi bir darbe vurulduğunu tespit ettik. Akademisyenler KHK’lar ile işten atılmaya başlandıktan sonra Turkiye’deki bilim adamları tarafından 2017’de yayınlanan makalelerde 2016’ya nazaran %12’ye yakın bir düşüş olduğu görülüyor. Bu rakam ise 2017’de SCOPUS tarafından taranan/indekslenen dergilerde beklenenden ~7,000 makale daha az. AKP hükümetinin yayınladığı KHK’ların uzun vadede Türkiye bilimine etkisi ise daha ileri tarihlerde yapılacak araştırmalar ile daha net bir şekilde ortaya çıkartılacaktır.
Click for FfA Annual Report 2017.
Click for Print Friendly version.
Ali Kaya says he used science to stay sane during his incarceration.
Thousands of academics in Turkish universities stand accused of either having supported terrorism or the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016. Theoretical physicist Ali Kaya is one of them. He was arrested three months after the failed coup and held for more than a year before his trial took place. On 20 December, a court declared him guilty of being a member of a terrorist organization and sentenced him to six years of imprisonment — but released him early owing to the time he had already served in prison while awaiting trial. Kaya says that he is innocent and is appealing against the verdict. In the meantime, he has been suspended from his academic post, and he has yet to learn whether his university, Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, plans to fire him or to await the outcome of the appeal.
Kaya says that while in prison, he kept his sanity by continuing his work on fundamental topics in cosmology. He wrote three research papers during his incarceration, on topics including inflation theory and cosmological perturbation theory. After his release, he posted the papers on the preprint server arXiv. Each contains a footnote that he dedicates to his friends in jail “who made my stay bearable at hell for 440 days between 7.10.2016 and 20.12.2017. I am also indebted to the colleagues who show support in these difficult times.”
Nature interviewed Kaya by Skype about his experiences.
What access did you have to research materials while in the prison?
Of course there was no Internet. Nothing digital — not even a pocket calculator — was allowed. No books could be brought in. Nothing in a foreign language was allowed in the jail. One of my students Google-translated some research papers for me into Turkish, but they were held back on suspicion that they included secret codes — presumably because they contained so many equations.
I worked up the research ideas I had already in my head before my arrest. Of course, it took much longer than it would have done if I had been at my computer. I had to start from basic formulae and derive things myself.
But time is something you have plenty of in prison. OK, I could not do ground-breaking work, but I think the papers I produced are solid, and I expect to get them published in good journals.
What were the general conditions like for you there?
Probably the conditions were better than in some other prisons in Turkey. Prisoners came and went. At times there were as many as 30 people, but on average, there were around 20 of us in 140 square metres. The space was divided into several small rooms for sleeping and a larger area that had a television. We were allowed into an adjacent small yard during the day.
Presumably, these conditions were not as cosy for doing research as they might sound?
No. Sure, it sounds cool to say you did research in prison — but prison is a bad place and I wouldn’t recommend it! The worst thing was the lack of contact. We were only allowed family visits for one hour a week, usually speaking through a glass partition on the telephone. We were also allowed a ten-minute phone call every two weeks. And I could speak to my lawyer once a week.
The first night in jail was the worst time of my life. I never gave up hope, but in prison you do often get a feeling that you might never get out, and nights are the worst.
But I told myself “They can take my freedom, but they can’t keep me from doing physics.”
How did you find quiet time to work in such a crowded space?
I was fortunate in my cellmates, many of whom were facing similar charges to me. Many were teachers. There was another assistant professor, and a doctor. We all got on well and the atmosphere was peaceful and respectful. I could sit at a little table with pen and paper and do my work.
You were in prison for almost 438 days: how did you spend all of that time?
I tried to learn Arabic, I played volleyball with others in the yard and I watched soccer on television. And I worked for several hours most days: that’s what kept me sane.
How did your university respond to your arrest?
I was lucky that my university only suspended me. Many other universities sacked those arrested on suspicion of supporting the coup.
What were the grounds for your arrest?
Because of my appeal, I prefer not to speak too much about it. Basically I was accused of being a terrorist — officially, being a member of a terror organization. But I can say that the evidence was abstract and absurd. For example, one of the arguments in my official indictment was that I had visited the United States and Canada, countries favoured by supporters of the movement that the government believes was behind the coup. The reasons for my travel had been academic: I had been on sabbatical at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and I held a seminar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and Tufts University in nearby Boston.
OHAL döneminde KHK ile ihraç edildiği işine dönebilmek için 269 gündür açlık grevinde olan eğitimcilerden Nuriye Gülmen’in tahliyesine karar verildi.
193 gündür tutuklu olan Gülmen, “terör örgütü üyeliği” suçundan ise 6 yıl 3 ay hapse mahkum edildi.
Ankara Sincan Cezaevi Kampüsü’nde görülen davada mahkeme, tutuklu bulunduğu süreyi ve ceza miktarını göz önünde bulundurduğu Gülmen’in, yurt dışına çıkış yasağı koyarak tahliyesine hükmetti.
Mahkeme Semih Özakça ile Acun Karadağ’ın ise tüm suçlamalardan beraatine karar verdi.
Kararın ardından Semih Özakça, “Nuriye Hoca’yı oradan aldık. ‘Kazanacağız’ demiştik, kazandık. Mahkumiyet ya da beraat kararı bizim için önemli değil, biz halkın kararına bakarız” dedi.
Numune Hastanesi’nin tutuklu koğuşunda tutulan Gülmen’in, Pazartesi günü görülen beşinci duruşmada savcının tahliye talebine rağmen mahkeme, “tutukluluk halinin devamına” karar vererek duruşmayı ertelemişti.
Semih Özakça ve Acun Karadağ ise geçen ay adli kontrol şartıyla tahliye edilmişti.
İçişleri Bakanı Süleyman Soylu Nuriye Gülmen ve Semih Özakça’nın “DHKP-C üyesi” olduklarını ve açlık grevi eylemlerinin de bu örgüt tarafından desteklendiğini söylemişti.
Bugünkü duruşmada sanıkların son sözleri ise şöyle oldu:
Semih Özakça: Benim son sözüm var ama o son sözün zamanı gelmedi. O son sözü söylemek için kelimeler, cümleler mevcut değil. Şu anda son söz söyleyecek olan siz olacaksınız.
Nuriye Gülmen: Biz direnişine gözümüz gibi, yüreğimiz gibi bakıyoruz. Öyle de bakmaya devam edeceğiz. Son sözlerim de yaşasın açlık grevi direnişimiz.
Şahap Kavcıoğlu, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said academics, journalists and politicians who signed a peace declaration in 2016 do not deserve to live, Gazete Duvar reported on Tuesday.
Signatories of a peace declaration titled “We Will Not Be a Party to This [Turkish state’s] Crime” and issued in January 2016 are facing accusations of disseminating terrorist propaganda.
“They smeared Turkey. They wrote that Turkey was carrying out a massacre and they signed it. With whom did they do this? Can there be such treason against the state? None of the academics, politicians and journalists who signed this declaration would even be given the right to life in any country. Putting them in prison aside, they would not be given the right to life,” said Kavcıoğlu during a commission meeting in Parliament.
The University of Oslo (UIO) has granted the 2017 Human Rights Award to Turkish academic and activist Professor İştar Gözaydın for her efforts towards freedoms and human rights in Turkey.
Professor Gözaydın, who spent some four months in prison after last year’s coup attempt in Turkey, told UIO’s Uniforma newspaper that she was honored by the award and said she thinks she was given it because of an article about her in the newspaper last year.
UIO Rector Svein Stølen told Uniforma that Gözaydın was honored because she is a successful academic, active in public debates and contentious in freedom of expression and human right issues.
Stølen said he expects Gözaydın would arrive in Oslo in November to receive her award.
Speaking about her jail time, Gözaydın told Uniforma that during her pre-trial detention from Dec. 20, 2016 to April 7, 2017 she had received over 200 letters from all over the world and replied to all.
Trade union members more generally have also been heavily targeted by the government.
Our sister trade union in Turkey (Egitim-Sen) has seen over 1500 of its members
dismissed and, in total, more than 100,000 public servants in Turkey have been
dismissed or suspended by emergency decree. In the words of Amnesty International,
‘Cutting 100,000 people off from access to work is akin to professional annihilation on a
In addition to the mass firings of public sector workers, fifteen private universities have
been closed and hundreds of academics and students detained in the crackdown.
Fikret Başkaya, a professor of Economic Development and International Relations was detained following a police raid against his home in Ankara on Monday.
The 77-year-old academic and the author of several books was caught by Ankara police. While the charges raised against him were unknown at the time of this writing, media said police detained some pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members as part of the same investigation, too.
During the search, police seized his laptop along with three books including a copy of Başkaya’s critical book, the Bankruptcy of the Paradigm.
NEW YORK—The arbitrary use of judicial power in targeting signatories of the January 2016 Academics for Peace petition is the latest in a long series of legal charges filed against civil society actors by authorities, and demonstrates the Turkish government’s ongoing campaign to silent dissent in all its forms.
On January 11, 2016, Academics for Peace circulated a petition titled “We Will Not be a Party to this Crime,” calling on the Turkish government to end its siege of Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey. After the failed July 2016 coup attempt, more than 4,000 academics were dismissed in a government effort to sweep out any opposition thinkers and Gulenist influences from higher education. Signatories of the Academics for Peace petition, many of whom have already been fired or forcibly retired from their positions, are now being tried on an individual basis on charges of “propagandizing for terror” under the Anti-Terror Law. The first court hearing is set for December 5, 2017, with others distributed among various criminal courts until April 2018. If convicted, more than 100 accused Academics for Peace signatories face up to seven and a half years in jail.
On December 22, 2016, Turkish authorities reportedly arrested three scholars from Uşak University on allegations that they were involved with a violent coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The scholars include Nurullah Şanlı, Aykut Yılmaz, and Sait Celik, the university’s rector.
Following the July 15 coup attempt, Turkish authorities declared a national state of emergency, which has been extended multiple times, and remains in effect as of this report. Authorities have alleged that members of a movement led by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen were behind the coup attempt, and have taken a range of actions against members of the higher education community (among others) which they claim are intended to identify those parties involved, and/or to eliminate the Gülen movement’s influence within Turkish institutions.
According to media reports, on December 22, police in Uşak arrested eight individuals, including the three university scholars, for alleged connections to the Gülen movement and the July 15 coup attempt. They were then taken to Uşak’s police headquarters where they were reportedly charged with “being a member of a terrorist organization” and “aiding a terrorist organization.” As of this report, the factual allegations, if any, forming the bases for the arrests are unknown.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary arrest of scholars as a part of sweeping actions taken by the State against higher education community members. While State authorities have a right to maintain order and respond to legitimate security concerns, such actions must comply with States’ human rights obligations, including those relating to freedom of association, due process, and academic freedom, which are protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.
UPDATE: On November 27, 2017, a Turkish court convicted and sentenced Professor Celik to 7 years and 11 months imprisonment on a charge of “membership to a terrorist organization.”