Nigel Evans (United Kingdom, EC) and Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden, SOC), PACE co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, welcomed the decision of Turkey’s Constitutional Court of 26 July 2019 to uphold the “Academics for Peace’s” freedom of expression.
“With this decision, the Constitutional Court is re-affirming that freedom of expression is a cornerstone value in a democratic society”, said the co-rapporteurs. “It is also obviously a pre-condition for academic freedom. The Assembly has, on numerous occasions, called upon the Turkish authorities to derail from its extensive interpretation of the Anti-terror law which has been deployed against academics, journalists, NGOs and human rights defenders.”
“This ruling of the Constitutional Court gives hope for hundreds of academics who have been prosecuted, sentenced, and even jailed for signing a Declaration of Peace, with dramatic consequences for their academic careers. This landmark decision is a step in the right direction, but further concrete steps now need to be taken. Therefore, we expect the Turkish authorities to swiftly hold retrials for those convicted, reverse the cases which are under appeal, acquit those still under prosecution, and reinstate academics who were forced to resign or who lost their job. As a matter of urgency, we ask the authorities to release the signatories currently behind bars, including mathematician Tuna Altinel, who is under arrest since 11 May 2019”, they concluded.
The Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled on 26 July 2019 that the rights of a group of “Academics for Peace” charged with “terror propaganda” had been violated; they had signed a Declaration of Peace “We shall not be a party to this crime” issued in 2016 in the wake of the military operations conducted in southeast Turkey. Over 600 of the 2 200 signatories have gone on to be prosecuted for terrorism.