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: September 07, 2016

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):İnönü University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

On September 7, 2016, Turkish authorities reportedly detained 27 academic and administrative personnel from İnönü University, based on allegations that they were involved in a violent coup attempt on July 15, 2016. 25 of the detained personnel were later arrested on charges of being “a member of a terrorist organization.”
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. 
On September 7, 2016, police conducted raids on the homes of 27 İnönü University personnel suspected of being involved in the coup attempt. 25 of the personnel were later brought to court and arrested on charges of “being a member of a terrorist organization,” while the other two were released. Of the 25 arrested personnel, ten had been ordered dismissed by a September 1 emergency decree, also based on allegations that they were involved in the coup attempt (see report).
Scholars at Risk is concerned about sweeping actions, including arbitrary detentions and arrests, taken by the state against higher education community members. 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 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.