Mehmet Fatih Traş, a research assistant at Çukurova University in the southern Turkish province of Adana, committed suicide on Friday evening in his home after he was fired from his job at the university.
Traş was one of the signatories of a peace declaration which in early 2016 called on the government to halt operations by security forces in southeastern Turkey, restore peace to the nation and return to the negotiating table to restart shelved talks with the Kurds to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue. A total of 1,128 academics signed the declaration, which attracted widespread criticism from the government.
Traş was fired from his job at the university after he finished his doctoral studies. His employment contract was not renewed.
The Adana branch of the Education Personnel Union (Eğitim Sen) made a statement concerning Traş’s death on Saturday and said the academic committed suicide as a result of psychological trauma he experienced after losing his job.
The peace declaration frustrated President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, leading to retribution against the academics. Some of the insults Erdoğan used against them included “so-called intellectuals,” “a flock called intellectuals,” “traitors” and “rough copies of intellectuals.”
Hundreds of academics who signed the declaration were detained when police raided their homes and offices across Turkey after the declaration was announced on Jan. 11, 2016, while hundreds of them were removed from their jobs.