BOĞAZİÇİ University Students and Staff Struggle for Academic Freedom

ISEE and ESEE stand in solidarity with BOĞAZİÇİ university students and staff in the struggle for academic freedom

The International and European Societies for Ecological Economics (ISEE and ESEE) herewith fully support Turkish academics and students in the fight for academic freedom and condemn the recent steps taken by the Turkish government to silence those who conduct research and teaching or undertake learning, that does not match with their values and political biases.

Most recently, Turkey’s AKP government headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have moved to take control of Boğaziçi University in İstanbul in order to suppress world-leading academics and their research. On 1 January 2021, Professor Melih Bulu, a loyal member of the ruling party, was appointed as the new rector. Bogazici University’s Faculty have stated that “this is yet another case of many ongoing anti-democratic practices since 2016, aiming at abolishing rectorial elections. We do not accept it as it clearly violates academic freedom and scientific autonomy as well as the democratic values of our university” (1). Recently, police have attacked and detained peaceful student protesters, conducted home raids with guns drawn, and engaged in torture. President Erdoğan called students “terrorists”, and has targeted LGBTI+ students in particular. 

ISEE and ESEE strongly condemn these actions. We express our deep respect and gratitude to colleagues and students who, in acts of courage, stand up for academic autonomy, free speech and democratic values. We call upon our colleagues within the ecological economics community to support their Turkish colleagues in their demands for respect of their right to conduct their teaching and research as they have done. This declaration should be taken by the Turkish government as a sign of the international support that stands against all oppressive regimes.

We call upon

  • Professor Bulu to decline the position;
  • the Turkish government to release any students still in custody, withdraw all charges, and respect academic freedom and university autonomy;
  • the police and militarised units to withdraw from Boğaziçi University;
  • all Turkish authorities to respect academic freedom.

Ecological economists who wish to express their solidarity with their Turkish colleagues and students should sign the petition that can be found here (2). 

There is a worrying upward trend in attempts to restrain academic freedom around the world. Besides Turkey, other recent examples include Australia (3), Hungary (4), the UK (5), and Brazil (6). As teachers, researchers, and students who confront orthodox ideas, we ecological economists hereby recognise the essential need to defend academic freedom against all those who seek to control thought for their own ends.

— The ISEE and ESEE Board

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