A group of academics from the prestigious Boğaziçi University held a demonstration on Monday in protest of the dismissal of two of their colleagues on the grounds that they signed a peace declaration.
Associate Professor Noemi Levy-Aksu, from the university’s history department, and Professor Abbas Vali, from the sociology department, were removed from their posts by the country’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) on Feb.22.
Both academics were 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.
Boğaziçi University academics issued a press statement at the university demanding that both of their colleagues return to their jobs.
Reading the press statement on behalf of the academics, Professor Yaman Barlas said YÖK’s decision on the two academics went against the university’s academic principles and autonomy.
Levy-Aksu, who also spoke during the demonstration, said the protest held at Boğaziçi against the dismissal of academics was a first and that she hopes it will set an example for other universities.
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.
Thousands of academics have also been purged from universities by government decrees since a failed coup attempt on July 15.