SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 18, 2016

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 18, 2016, Dr. Andre Stavilă, a politics lecturer who had been employed at Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University in Western Turkey, resigned from his position, reportedly under pressure from the university, arising out of a social media post in which he commented on Turkish politics. 
Dr. Stavilă’s resignation came just a few days after 1128 scholars in Turkey released a petition calling on the government to end its crackdowns targeting Kurdish rebels in the southeastern part of the country. In the aftermath of the petition’s release, Turkish authorities placed all of the signatories under investigation, and many scholars who signed the petition have reportedly faced criminal and professional retaliation. On January 14, following the release of the petition, a post on Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University’s official Facebook page warned that any professors at the university who supported the “Academics for Peace” initiative would be subject to investigation.
Though Dr. Stavilă was not a signatory to the petition, he left a comment on a colleague’s Facebook page accusing the Turkish government of going “back to the dark ages.” Dr. Stavilă reported that, within two hours of this post, the head of his department contacted him and informed him that, because of the post, his university contract might not be renewed, and that he should think about his position over the weekend. The following Monday, Dr. Stavilă reportedly tendered his resignation to the head of his department, who accepted the resignation immediately.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about threats of professional retaliation against scholars in response to the nonviolent exercise of the rights to academic freedom, free expression and free association – conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. Where these threats are part of a widespread pattern, such incidents have a profoundly chilling effect on academic freedom, undermine democratic society generally, and may represent a grave threat to higher education on a national scale. State and university authorities have an obligation to comply with internationally recognized standards of academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association.