Administrative court in Turkey reinstates dismissed ‘Peace Academic’

Academic Dinçer Demirkent

The Ankara 21st Administrative Court on Monday announced its decision to reinstate academic Dinçer Demirkent, who was dismissed from his job by an emergency decree in 2016 for signing the Academics for Peace (BAK) declaration of January 11, 2016, Turkish media reported.

After his dismissal, Demirkent applied to the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission (OHAL Commission) for reinstatement, but his application was rejected. He later filed a petition for reinstatement with the Ankara administrative court.

The OHAL Commission was set up to examine complaints from individuals who were adversely affected by government decree-laws during a two-year state of emergency (OHAL) declared after a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016.

”The Ankara 21st Administrative Court annulled the OHAL Commission’s decision about me. My friends and I said, ‘No, we are not leaving,’ and that we would return to our jobs together. We will defend academic freedom, the university and fundamental rights and freedoms in our lecture halls,” Demirkent said on Twitter.

A total of 1,128 academics who referred to themselves as the “Peace Academics” signed a declaration in early 2016 calling on the government to halt operations by security forces in southeastern Turkey, restore peace to the country and return to the negotiating table to restart shelved talks to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

The move attracted widespread criticism from the government. Many of the signatories were fired, sentenced to prison or subjected to overseas travel bans.

The administrative court decided to reinstate Demirkent, referring to a previous decision of the Constitutional Court. In its decision the top court had stated that “there is no evidence in the court’s reasoning for judgment beyond the assumption that those who wrote and signed the statement acted on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK]” with regard to the Peace Academics.

The administrative court emphasized that Demirkent had no links to the PKK and that the signing of the statement was also done within the framework of freedom of expression.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community.

After the initial signatories were targeted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, more academics signed the peace declaration in solidarity, with the total number exceeding 2,000.

A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed in the aftermath of the coup attempt in 2016. Professors and lecturers from nearly all universities in Turkey were targeted in the government’s post-coup crackdown.

The OHAL Commission rejected 106,970 applications out of the 124,235 it had processed since its establishment, according to a written statement it released on May 27, 2022. The statement also showed that the commission had received 127,130 applications, ruled in favor of only 17,265 petitioners and was still examining around 3,000 applications.

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