The Political Purges in Turkey

Published on: 22 Jul 2016

The Political Purges in Turkey and the CHA

Ottawa, 22 July 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

The Honourable Stéphane Dion
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Trudeau, Dear Mr. Dion,

We write as academics and concerned citizens to express our strong disapproval of the current situation in Turkey.  As historians, we are particularly concerned with restrictions on the free movement of teachers and researchers, and on threats to academic freedom. While we strongly condemn the attempt to subvert the democratic process in Turkey through the military coup of July 15, 2016, President Erdogan’s response has gone beyond acceptable measures, using the occasion to undertake a massive purge (suspension from duty or arrest) of judges, military personnel, civil servants, university deans, and teachers. Since the day of the coup, the total number of purges in public services has totalled 49,321 people.

In addition, the Turkish government has suspended the annual leave of more than three million civil servants nationwide,and public sector employees are also banned from traveling abroad. During an interview with CNN on July 18, Turkish President Erdo?an did not rule out the possibility of reinstating the death penalty.  We fear that justice cannot be done in this situation.  There are reports that those in custody cannot find lawyers, since no one dares defend them fearing to be added to the purge lists.

Turkey is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and, as a candidate for the membership in the European Union, it has committed itself to the full observance of the Copenhagen criteria, including stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities, and abolition of capital punishment.  The current crackdown violates all of these commitments and ought not to be tolerated either by the EU, by NATO, or by the government of Canada which considers Turkey its strong ally.

We, condemn any attempt to overturn the democratic order by military coups. At the same time, we condemn the actionstaken by the Turkish government in violation of rights, academic freedom and the rule of law. The principle of independence and impartiality of the judiciary - together with freedom of the media - is at the foundation of the rule of law and democracy. The political independence and the academic freedom of the educational profession is essential for free societies.

We therefore call upon Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Dion to strongly criticize the Turkish government’s violation of human rights, academic freedom and the rule of law and to refuse to accept anything but a reversal of these authoritarian policies.

Joan Sangster
Canadian Historical Association 

Minister Dion's Response
October 4, 2016







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