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: July 26, 2016

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Marmara University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On July 26, 2016, Marmara University reportedly suspended Hakan Akin, a professor at the university’s Faculty of Medicine, due to an investigation into allegations that he was involved in a violent coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Following the coup attempt, Turkish authorities declared a national state of emergency, which has been extended repeatedly, and remains in effect as of this report. Authorities allege that members of a movement led by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen are behind the coup attempt, and have accordingly taken a range of actions against members of the higher education community (among others) which they claim are intended to identify those parties involved, and/or to eliminate the Gülen movement’s influence within Turkish institutions.

Within two weeks of the coup attempt, Marmara University officials launched an investigation into Professor Akin based on suspicions of his involvement in the coup attempt. On July 26, the university ordered him suspended pending the results of the investigation.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary suspension of a scholar. While State and university authorities have a right to maintain order and respond to legitimate security concerns, such actions must comply with States’ human rights obligations, including those relating to freedom of association, due process, freedom of movement, and academic freedom, which are protected by 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. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally