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: April 05, 2018

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Osmangazi University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 5, 2018, a research assistant at Osmangazi University in Central Turkey reportedly shot and killed four of his colleagues, apparently following multiple complaints that he had violently threatened university staff in the past.

Other university staff had reportedly claimed that the alleged gunman, Volkan Bayar, was mentally unstable, had threatened his colleagues, and had falsely accused more than 100 other academics at the university and around Turkey of being supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the exiled cleric whom Turkish authorities claim was responsible for the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. These allegations led to the dismissal of at least one scholar at Osmangazi University. Although other members of the university community reportedly complained to law enforcement about Bayar’s false allegations and violent threats, prosecutors reportedly declined to take action, claiming that Bayar was performing his civic duty when he alleged that his colleagues were Gulenists.

Bayar reportedly killed a deputy dean, Mikael Yalcin, a secretary, Fatih Ozmutlu, and two members of the teaching staff, Serdar Caglar and Yasir Armagan, before he was taken into custody by police.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks, including the apparently targeted killing of university staff. Authorities have an obligation to protect the university space, including investigating violent threats and taking any necessary action to maintain a safe campus, as well as to prevent future attacks and hold perpetrators of violent attacks accountable. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom, university autonomy, and democratic society generally.