Turkish appeals court overturns reinstatement of dismissed academics

Academics Hafize Öztürk Türkmen and Taha Karaman

An appeals court in Ankara has overturned a lower court ruling to reinstate Taha Karaman and Hafize Öztürk Türkmen, academics who were dismissed in 2017 from their positions at Akdeniz University in southern Turkey, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Thursday.

The academics returned to their jobs at the university’s medical faculty in July of last year after an administrative court had ruled for their reinstatement.

They were removed from their jobs over their signature on a joint declaration calling on the government to opt for a negotiated peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in the country’s predominantly Kurdish regions.

Published in early 2016 by over 1,000 academics known as the “Academics for Peace,” the declaration led to the mass dismissal and prosecution of hundreds of its signatories over its criticism of the Turkish authorities’ heavy-handed methods in fighting against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the crackdown on civilians accused of affiliation with the militant group.

The PKK is a separatist organization that has been waging war against the Turkish state since the 1980s and has been designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Turkish academia suffered mass purges and prosecutions after a failed military coup in July 2016 that triggered a widespread government crackdown on dissent under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, particularly during a two-year-long post-coup state of emergency.

The country also saw the summary shutdown of universities and many other educational institutions over their purported ties to terrorism.

It was placed in the “not free” category in the  “Freedom in the World 2023” report released by the Washington-based Freedom House.

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