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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Call for solidarity by Turkish EASP members

13.03.2017, by Sibylle Classen in announcement

Actions we can take to protect academic freedom

Dear members of EASP

Below you can find a call for solidarity issues by some of our Turkish colleagues, united under the umbrella of "Social and Political Psychology Platform of Turkey." Aside from providing valuable information, this call outlines several actions that could greatly help our Turkish colleagues. Part of this call is directed at EASP, as an organization, and you can be sure that the EC is attentive and pursuing any actions that we possibly can, some of which in alliance with other societies. One of these is precisely a session at the upcoming GM to consider and discuss the situation of colleagues who are at risk. Stay tuned on this--you will hear more in due time.

Importantly, some of the actions suggested by these colleagues are things each of us can do, individually. Please do consider these and what you might be able to do.

On behalf of the EC

Manuela Barreto

Dear Members of European Association of Social Psychology,

We are writing this letter as members of EASP as well as of the Turkish Psychological Association to invite the members and the committees of EASP to support academics in Turkey, who are now facing the most ominous threat to academia and academic freedom in our history.

The Turkish government declared a three-month state of emergency after the attempted coup d’état on 15th of July 2016, which has since been extended twice. The government claims that the aim of the state of emergency is safeguarding democracy, freedoms, and the rule of law, yet it has turned into a massive cleansing of the political opposition to the government. One of the largest purges is taking place in academia. Without any legal investigation or established charges against them through the judiciary system, academics are temporarily or decisively being expelled from their university positions or dismissed from their universities altogether, prevented from retaining their academic statuses or receiving their deserved pensions, all while also having their passports confiscated so they cannot leave the country. Academics who signed the “Academics for Peace petition", that was created to draw attention to the actions of the Turkish government against Kurdish populations have been among the main targets of this purge. Since the crackdown, 15 universities have been shut down, and academics in those universities have lost their jobs. These academics have undergone great difficulties to continue their studies in other universities because of the stigma and reluctance of the university administrators to hire them, who fear being shut down as well. Almost 20 state of emergency decrees have been issued, and 4,811 academics have been purged from universities; some of them have been detained and put under custody. Some other academics who were forced to withdraw their signature from the petition continue to work under oppressive conditions and persistent mobbing.

Many international associations have expressed their concerns regarding the deterioration of academic freedom in Turkey. However, we believe that we have now passed beyond the point where we can simply express our sympathies or concerns. It is time to show international solidarity with colleagues in Turkey who are facing threats, including and beyond that of the loss of academic freedom.

In addition to our general concerns about the state of academia in Turkey, we are also writing this letter to let you know that the situation has been getting worse for our discipline. The latest state of emergency decree was issued late on Feb. 7, 2017, which resulted in a total of 330 academics being purged from universities across the country; among them are 13 psychologists, including early career scholars and senior researchers. All of them are honourable and succesful members of psychological society and many of them are just in their early career stages.

Under the given circumstances, we call on EASP to show solidarity and take urgent action in this time of increasing threat to academic freedom. Possible actions for you and your organisation to support us include but are not limited to:

(1) Commissioning universities and diplomatic relations to prepare short term work possibilities, research grants or research asylums abroad to help psychologists to continue their academic work.

(2) Providing small to mid-scale research funds for the psychologists who have been banned from leaving Turkey, to help them to pursue their research in Turkey and sustain their livelihoods and scholarly careers. Individual members can also fund researchers, for instance by donating money to such calls:

(3) Sharing daily/weekly social media reports on developments related to the state of emergency in Turkey and to the violation of multiple rights.

(4) Providing honorary memberships or affiliated memberships for psychologists who are under risk or who are banned from academia to help them preserve their academic titles:

i. Individual members can contact their universities, faculties and research groups to give honorary affiliations to dismissed scholars and scholars at risk from Turkey to help them continue to publish articles and join scholarly meetings/conferences with a credible university affiliation, as well as to support a symbolic act toward embracing their academic titles which were discredited by the government.

ii. Individual members can contact their universities, faculties and research groups to create small funds to collaborate (online or onsite depending on possibilities) with (dismissed and at risk) scholars from Turkey. With a similar purpose, ISPP will start to create a pool of applicants (based on their areas of interest and specialization) from Turkey, which can be shared with EASP.

(5) Holding a round table discussion for the evaluation of “academia at risk” and for future actions of solidarity for Turkey and beyond during the 18th General meeting of EASP. Details will be announced later on.

We maintain our hope that academics around the world will show solidarity with us. We also hold that this will be a step toward building international solidarity networks for psychologists in Turkey as well as in other countries where academic freedom is increasingly under threat. As members of EASP, we believe that our association will have a key role in building this international solidarity.

Best Regards,

Social and Political Psychology Platform of Turkey