Chronology: the case against four academics

On 11 January 2016, the Petition for Peace was released by academics.

On 21 January 2016, 27 academics were detained and accused of spreading terrorist propaganda, before later being released. On 14 January 2016, the Turkish Prosecutors office launched an investigation over possible charges against academics for insulting the state and engaging in terrorist propaganda. Several signatories to the Petition for Peace have been dismissed from their work, suspended, put under administrative and criminal investigation, and subjected to smear campaigns and physicals threats. On 12 January 2016, at a conference of Ambassadors, President Erdogan targeted signatories to the petition, stating: “Some people who call themselves academics defame Turkey for protecting its land and threaten the people in the region”. Turkey’s Council of High Education (YÖK), a regulatory body of Turkish Universities, released a statement concerning the petition, which stated: “This declaration which supports terrorism cannot be associated with academic freedom. (…) We will do the necessary about this declaration within the scope of law.”

On 14 March 2016, Police raided four of the academics `home following custody order on March 14. Three academics went to the police station on their own will. Camci was abroad at the time. Three were arrested on charge of “terrorism propaganda” on March 15. The investigation was opened after a speech given by the four academics at a press conference at the Education and Science Workers’ Union’s in Istanbul on 10 March 2016. During the press conference, the four read the press release on behalf of Academics for Peace from universities in Istanbul verbalizing the intention to continue their struggle, despite the repression and rights violations at the universities and “legal and verbal war” which have been initiated against academics following the release of January petition calling for peace in the Kurdish region.

The press statement read out by Esra Mungan Gürsoy, Muzaffer Kaya, Kıvanç Ersoy and Meral Camci on 10th March, 2016 was issued by Academics for Peace Istanbul to inform the public about precisely this unjust treatment against the signees of the original petition, especially about the administrative investigations and prosecutions.

On 15 March 2016, academics Ms Esra Mungan of Boğaziçi University, Mr Kıvanç Ersoy of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, and Mr Muzaffer Kaya, formerly of Nişantaşı University, were arrested on charges of terrorism and taken into detention pending an investigation in connection with their signing of the Petition for Peace, a petition calling for an end to violent actions by the Government in Turkey’s south-east region.

On 24 March 2016, Esra Mungan was transferred from her original cell in Bakirkoy prison to a smaller cell with very poor hygienic conditions. She has been held in solitary confinement since her arrest. On the same date, Muzaffer Kaya and Kıvanç Ersoy were transferred to the Silivri Prison, where according to the information received, they were searched while naked, and then forced to remain naked for 20 minutes before being placed in solitary confinement. Books were also seized from them. Colleagues of the academics have began a vigil in front of both Bakirkoy and Silivri Prison.

25 March 2016

Worsening conditions of detention of imprisoned academics for peace

Esra Mungan has since been moved to a smaller cell in solitary confinement, while Kıvanç Ersoy and Muzaffer Kaya have been transferred from their original place of detention, subjected to ill-treatment, and also placed in solitary confinement

30 March 2016

Academic Meral Camci formerly of Yeni Yuzyil University who was abroad when custody order was issued on her along with three other academics has returned to Turkey.

31 March 2016

Ms Meral Camci who had been abroad as the custody order was issued, had returned to Turkey. The academic who had gone to the police department together with her lawyers (March 31), had been referred to the court demanding arrest after her interrogation by the prosecution. The court has decided for her arrest and she was put in the same ward in Bakirkoy prison with Esra Mungan.

Since 15th March and 31st March, 2016 respectively, the four have been held as pre-trial detainees, accused of “making propaganda of the terrorist organization PKK/KCK” under Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law. The indictment refers to a press statement which the four read out on 10th March 2016 and the original petition “We will not be a party to this crime”, which was signed by 1128 individuals and made public on 11th January, 2016.

The indictment has been approved by the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penalty Court and the first hearing of the trial will be held on 22nd April, 2016. The accusation requires an imprisonment from 1,5 years to 7,5 years.

Imprisoned academics released on bail

On 22 April 2016 a penal court in Istanbul released on bail four Turkish academics and human rights defenders who had been detained for more than one month.

Ms Esra Mungan Gürsoy, Ms Meral Camcı (arrested on 31 March), Mr Kıvanç Ersoy and Mr Muzaffer Kaya were arrested on 15 March 2016 on charges of terrorism propaganda. They were detained after signing the “Petition for Peace,” a public declaration calling on the Turkish government to stop violent security operations in the country’s mainly Kurdish south-east region.

The prosecutor said the initial investigation was suspended, but he launched a second one on charges of “insulting the Turkish identity” according to TCK/301             (Turkish Penalty Law). The next hearing is scheduled for 26 September 2016. The court did not drop the charges against the academics, who are facing up to seven and a half years in jail if convicted.

26 September 2016

Attorneys have demanded acquittal of peace declaration signatories Esra Mungan, Meral Camci, Kıvanç Ersoy and Muzaffer Kaya in the second hearing, the court adjourned the hearing to December 22.

22 December 2016

In the previous hearing, the prosecution had made an application to the Ministry of Justice to change the pressed charges and make the defendants stand trial on charge of “denigrating the Turkish Nation, the State of the Turkish Republic or its institutions” in accordance with the Article 301.The attorney of the defendants, Meric Eyuboglu noted that they demanded acquittal without having to wait for a response from the Ministry of Justice. The court has decided to wait for the response from the ministry.

30 March 2017

As the response waited from the Ministry did not arrive at the court, the hearing postponed to 18.07.2017 once again without the acquittal demanded by the lawyers.

18 July 2017

There was still no response from the Ministry of Justice in the fifth trial. As the response waited from the Ministry did not arrive at the court, the hearing postponed to 26.12.2017 once again without the acquittal demanded by the lawyers.

26 December 2017