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: August 08, 2018

Attack Types: Imprisonment


Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 8, 2018, Turkish authorities reportedly detained academic Nuriye Gülmen in apparent retaliation for her participation in a peaceful demonstration.

Gülmen was in the city of Bodrum to demonstrate her solidarity with primary school teacher Engin Karataş who had been detained for protesting his dismissal by order of an emergency decree. Gülmen was about to fly a kite saying “I want my work back” to express her support for Karataş when police demanded that she present identification as part of a criminal record check. Gülmen refused to show her ID saying “you already know me.” Police then used violent force and detained Gülmen and her companion, Mehmet Dersulu. Both Gülmen and Dersulu were allegedly subjected to physical abuse and torture while in custody. The next day, both Gülmen and Dersulu were released.

Gülmen was previously detained in May 2017 in connection with a hunger strike she had undertaken to protest her dismissal. She had been dismissed as a result of an emergency decree on January 6 based on allegations that she was involved in a violent coup attempt on July 15, 2016. On December 1, 2017, the court ordered for her release.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention of a scholar, in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression—conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Right and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from restricting freedom of expression, so long as it is exercised peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.