We, the undersigned, declare the following:
On 1 January 2021, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed a new rector of the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul whilst previous rectors of the institution had been chosen by the university itself. The decision caused widespread protests by students whereupon the Turkish authorities answered with harsh crackdowns and arrests.
In connection with these events, the Turkish Government is requested to respect Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights enshrining the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
These events are in line with the general decline of academic freedom in Council of Europe member States which can be seen, for example, in the measures against the Central European University in Hungary. On 20 November 2020, the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 2352 (2020) on “Threats to academic freedom and autonomy of higher education institutions in Europe”. In accordance with this resolution, the Turkish Government must take immediate action to reverse practices that limit the respect of principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy. These principles are not only crucial for the quality of education and research; they are essential components of democratic societies.