Solidarity visit by the former General Secretary of IFUT on behalf of ETUCE to Istanbul/Attendance at Court case against Turkish Academics
1. The first of the court cases involving academics who have been charged with the “crime” of signing a petition criticizing the policies of the Turkish government regarding the treatment of Kurdish people particularly in the South-East of the country opened in Istanbul on Tuesday 4 December 2017.
2. At the request of Egitim Sen ETUCE was represented at events surrounding the trial, including attending the actual Court hearing in Caglayan Courthouse. Mike Jennings, ETUCE Treasurer, attended these events on behalf of the European Director Susan Flocken and the ETUCE President Christine Blower.
3. The events, organized over two days, included:
* A Press Briefing on the background to, and the implications of, the case. The speakers were from Egitim Sen, the Medical doctors’ union and the union representing workers in the Health Service.
* A panel discussion led by three prominent Turkish academics.
* A public protest outside the Courthouse on the morning of the trial.
* Attendance at the actual Hearing in Cagayan Courtcase.
4. The outcome of the case was that, following legal submissions, the case was adjourned until April 2018.
5. While there was some disappointment at the failure of the Court to dismiss the charges against the academics there was a general recognition that such a clear-cut victory was always unlikely and that there was good reason to believe that this Court, which might have been expected to do the government’s bidding, was conscious of the level of international negative attention and so opted to kick the issue in to the middle distance.
6. At each of the above events Mike Jennings made it clear that ETUCE is implacably opposed to the prosecution of these academics and regards it as an egregious violation of the principles of free speech and academic freedom.
7. The above events were also attended by ETUCE affiliates from the UK, Denmark and Spain as well as representatives from the municipal government of Cologne/Koln, Germany (one of the defendants is a citizen of the city) and representatives of other civil society organizations from both Turkey and abroad.