Open Letter: Repression against critical scientists in Turkey, by Bund demokratischer Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler / BdWi

Please see the original document in German at

Open Letter/Repression against critical scientists in Turkey

Dear Minister Maas,

It is with great indignation and concern that we are following the continuing repression of critical citizens by the Turkish government. We are particularly concerned about the renewed punitive measures against academics. In December 2018, eight renowned academics have been convicted to prison sentences between 15 and 30 months:

Prof. Sebnem Korur Fincanci,
Prof. Gencay Gursoy,
Prof. Nesrin Cakmak Sungur,
Prof. Ayse Erzan,
Prof. Ozdemir Aktan,
Assoc. Prof. Lutfiye Bozag,
Prof. Fusun Ustel and
Prof. Busra Ersanli.

These colleagues were condemned for their commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Turkish- Kurdish conflict. Together with more than 1,1000 other academics they had signed a petition by the Baris icin Akademisyenler (Academics for Peace). With their signature, they had protested against the military measures taken by the Turkish government in the Kurdish region and against the civil population.

The assumption of their social responsibility as academics was followed by an unprecedented campaign of criminalization. And yet, these colleagues remained loyal to their critical stance. The judges deemed this consistent commitment to peace and human rights as lack of remorse with the objective to increase the penalty.

The Association of Democratic Scientists (BdWi) supports all efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the conflicts in Turkey and declares its full solidarity for the affected Turkish and Kurdish colleagues.

We expect the Turkish government to respect general human rights and especially the freedom of expression and speech and to end criminal prosecution immediately. Criticism of a democratic state and of the actions of governments is a fundamental democratic right. To criminally prosecute critics and to threaten them with the loss of their professional employment stands in contradiction to the self-conception of democratically constituted states. This also applies to Turkey, which pursues the goal of becoming a member of the European Union.

Dear Minister Maas,

We consider it essential that the German Federal Government strongly objects to this violation of fundamental rights by the Turkish Government and works towards the immediate cessation of punitive measures against critical academics.

With warm thanks and best regards,
Torsten Bultmann Steffen Käthner
(Managing Directors of the Association of Democratic Scientists / BDWi)

Copies of this open letter are sent for informational purposes to the foreign policy spokesman of the different parliamentary groups of the German Bundestag, to the German Ambassador in Turkey and the press.