Turkish government had declared academics, who have announced their opinion contrary to security policies of the government, as “traitors who should be declared as terrorists without weapons” and started acting on presumptions to intimidate, detain and arrest them. Just recently three academics had been arrested for terrorism charges while dozens of others are still under investigation and hundreds are subjected to even more serious threats. The fact that Turkish universities are subjected to Higher Education Authority (YOK), and do not have absolute autonomy makes it difficult for academics in uttering their opinions. Yet, since there were no crimes listed earlier in the penal code, the academics facing investigation could not be put on trial easily. With the new additional regulations to Higher Education Law, the legal framework for putting academics on the “felon’s dock” becomes much easier.
The government has quickly drafted a new bill to suppress academic freedoms that allow critical scholars to announce their thoughts that are contrary to government policies. According to the new draft bill, any academic that gets involved with “activities that have separatist claims or terror activities, or acts in support of this” would be kicked out of universities and lose public offices.
According to the new bill, these are the new regulations:
-An update to Higher Education Law that previously foresaw “warning, condemnation, temporary loss of wage, stopping promotion” now also includes losing academic title, dismissal from work, dismissal from public office”.
-Academics who get involved with separatist claims or terror activities or those who get involved with ideological or political actions, or supporting such actions will lose their public office.
-Apart from political activities, involvement with boycott, occupy, slowdown strike, strike, stopping public works that would disturb institutional tranquility, peace and work atmosphere, would result in losing employment.
-Against political works at universities, YOK president is now authorized to start investigation, YOK Disciplinary Board has authority to give punishment, university disciplinary boards have authority to dismiss one from work and from public office.
-Crimes of political involvement include crimes of political and ideological petition, propagating for political parties; discrimination based on language, race, color, gender, political thoughts, philosophical belief, religion and sect, attain personal interest, act on political and ideological reasons.
The new regulation has not left the retired academics, who had signed the peace petition that initiated the latest stir in Turkish judiciary. The academics who have retired or ended their academic work for any other reason will have a mark in their personal files, and their punishments will be given if they go back to work or start working for foundation (private) universities.