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: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Sakarya University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On July 26, 2016, Turkish authorities reportedly detained and later arrested 25 scholars from Sakarya University on suspicion of membership in Turkey’s Gülenist movement and involvement in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The scholars include:

Muharrem Aktas
Gürsel Düzenli
Yüksel Korkmaz

Ismail Albayrak
Bahri Ermis
Rana Kutanis

Vedat Arı
Halil Ibrahim Eskikurt
İzzet Lofça

Murat Çakıroğlu
Huseyin Gelberi
İbrahim Özbek

Muhammet Cerit
Mehmet Gündüz
Ahmet Ozcerit

Hasan Hakkı Çiftçi
Gönül Gürol
Orhan Veli Özkan

Mustafa Demir
Murat Kapsız
Erdoğan Şentürk

Ahmet Selçuk Dizkırıcı
Ramazan Kayikci

Mesut Durat
Okan Koç


Following a failed attempt at a coup on July 15, 2016, State authorities have taken a range of actions against members of the higher education community — among others — allegedly intended to identify those parties involved with the coup attempt, with the ultimate aim of eliminating their influence within Turkish institutions. Authorities have focused these efforts on individuals suspected of being associated with a movement led by Fettulah Gülen, a Muslim cleric accused by the authorities of organizing the coup attempt.

Media and family sources indicate that, on July 26, State authorities detained 25 scholars on suspicion of their membership in Turkey’s Gülenist movement and participation in the July 15 coup attempt. They have reportedly been denied access to family and legal counsel, and have experienced harsh treatment since their detention. On August 5, they were brought to court and arrested on undisclosed charges pending trial. As of this report, the scholars’ whereabouts remain undisclosed and trial has not yet been scheduled.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention and arrest of scholars as a part of sweeping actions taken by the State against members of the higher education community. While State 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 opinion and expression, freedom of association, due process, 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.