Guest post: Turkish academic in solitary confinement

An anonymous Turkish academic has sent the following:

Three academics were detained after they signed a petition to ask the government to  to stop the war in the South East of Turkey and start a process for peace. One of the three, Esra Mungan, is a professorrom the Psychology Department at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.  A few days ago, she was put in solitary confinement for reasons unknown. One of her students translated the message she gave to a visitor.

Esra Mungan (Boğaziçi University): “(…) I am under solitary confinement in the same conditions as those who are sentenced to aggravated imprisonment. In the interrogation, they asked me about the 14 items that were published in the newspaper Akşam. They say that I received instructions from KCK (Group of Communities in Kurdistan). A real scholar does not receive orders from anyone. And that’s the reason why we are against YÖK (Council of Higher Education, the institution that is responsible for the supervision of universities and was founded after the coup d’état of 1980). We don’t take orders from anyone; we have been fighting against this for years. We don’t want the Council of Higher Education to control our institutions, we want to manage our own universities (…) For the first time in my life, I haven’t read for 50 hours. Being without books was a psychological torture for me. (…) I think about the classes of my students the most, I have 54 students. I teach memory. I miss my class a lot. (…) I am physically rested, yet broken down psychologically. I used to go to the university at 8 AM and I was the one who used to turn the lights off. What is important here is that my students are deprived of their right to education. I cannot teach my thesis students, their right to education is taken away. I teach 13 students at MA level. It was very pleasant but my students are left in the lurch. (…) I was educated in Germany from age 2.5 until 15. They constantly taught us about the Nazi period and how bad it was. As a result of my education, I learnt to say no to the things that I believe to be wrong in spite of the public opinion. In Hitler’s Germany everybody said ‘yes’ but it turned out to be wrong. This period reminds me of Hitler era in Germany. Freedom of thought is important; I don’t do anything that I don’t believe in. I have dealt with the issues of everyone, I have been sensitive, I tried to improve the conditions of subcontracted workers at the university.”

Other academics who signed the peace petition have already lost their jobs, some have been attacked by students or members of the public, and some are awaiting  investigation or trial. All are highly vulnerable and should not be named or contacted about this publicly by international supporters (unless they say so themselves).

In January four students were arrested for signing a petition in support of academics who were being investigated for signing the first petition.

For another story on the topic, go here.

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