Hundreds of Turkish Academics Acquitted following Constitutional Court Decision
November 5, 2019
Over the past two months, large numbers of Turkish academics have been acquitted of terrorism-related charges brought against them for signing a “peace petition” in early 2016. They are among more than 1,100 Turkish academics who called for an end to the military campaign in the majority Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey and renewed negotiations for peace by adding their names to the petition. Known as the Academics for Peace, many were summarily forced out of their university positions, prevented from traveling outside the country, and criminally prosecuted. In late July 2019, in a landmark decision, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that the conviction of 10 Academics for Peace, for signing the peace petition, violated their right to freedom of expression. This ruling created a path to justice for academics subjected to criminal proceedings. The CHR has closely followed the situations of more than a dozen Academics for Peace and is gratified that the Court’s decision has led to swift and positive developments in a number of their legal cases.
Since the Constitutional Court ruling, we understand that more than 480 peace petition signatories have received acquittals. Many, however, remain unable to return to their academic work. Last month, the Academics for Peace issued a public statement calling for the reinstatement of those academics dismissed from their universities by statutory decree and the return of passports to the academics whose travel documents had been confiscated.