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Title: Scholars at Risk issues call for letters on behalf of detained Professor Büşra Ersanlı of Turkey
Publication: SAR Press Release
Author: Scholars at Risk
Country: Turkey
Published Date:
November 09, 2011


Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about reports that Professor Büşra Ersanlı, a professor of political science at Marmara University in Istanbul, has been arrested. SAR asks for letters, faxes and emails urging the appropriate authorities to intervene in Professor Ersanlı’s case and to ensure that it proceeds in a manner consistent with Turkey’s obligations under domestic and international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, free expression and freedom of association; to ensure her well being in custody, including access to counsel and family; and to ensure reasonable opportunity for release on bail or bond pending the resolution of the proceedings, as SAR understands Professor Ersanlı has not been accused of violence and poses no threat of violence warranting pre-trial detention.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 270 universities and colleges in 33 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In cases like that of Professor Ersanlı, involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, Scholars at Risk intervenes hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.

Professor Büşra Ersanlı is a professor at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations at Marmara University in Istanbul. Scholars at Risk understands that she also serves as a member of the constitutional commission of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), a political party. Scholars at Risk has learned that Professor Ersanlı and dozens of others were arrested on October 28, 2011 in Istanbul during a police operation that appears to have targeted the BDP, and on November 1, 2011 Professor Ersanlı was charged with “membership in an illegal organization” under Turkey’s Anti Terror Law, a charge which reflects the authorities’ allegation that the BDP is linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which is banned in Turkey and designated a terrorist organization by multiple countries. Scholars at Risk understands that BDP publicly disavows this allegation[*], and SAR is not aware of any allegation that Professor Ersanlı is a member or otherwise associated with the PKK but rather that the charge against her stems only from her work on the intra-party constitutional commission of the BDP.

Absent any additional or contrary information, the facts as described appear to indicate that Professor Ersanlı was arrested and charged as a result of nonviolent expressive activity and association with others, conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is party[**], and the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is party. Scholars at Risk further understands that Professor Ersanlı’s arrest coincided with the start of an academic conference in which she was scheduled to participate, thereby infringing also on her ability to exercise academic freedom and to undertake professional exchanges with other scholars, acts also protected by international law.

Scholars at Risk therefore respectfully urges Turkish authorities to intervene in Professor Ersanlı’s case and to ensure that it proceeds in a manner consistent with Turkey’s obligations under domestic and international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, free expression and freedom of association. SAR also urges authorities to ensure Professor Ersanlı’s well being in custody, including access to counsel and family, as well as to ensure reasonable opportunity for release on bail or bond pending the resolution of the proceedings, as we understand Professor Ersanlı has not been accused of violence and poses no threat of violence warranting pre-trial detention.

Scholars at Risk invites letters, emails and faxes be sent:

-respectfully urging authorities to intervene in Professor Ersanlı’s case and to ensure that it proceeds in a manner consistent with Turkey’s obligations under domestic and international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, free expression and freedom of association;

-respectfully urging authorities to ensure Professor Ersanlı’s well being in custody, including access to counsel and family; and

-respectfully urging authorities to ensure reasonable opportunity for release on bail or bond pending the resolution of the proceedings, as we understand Professor Ersanlı has not been accused of violence and poses no threat of violence warranting pre-trial detention.

PLEASE WRITE TO:

President Abdullah Gül
Office of the President
Cumhurbaskanligi Kosku
Cankaya
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 470 13 16

COPIES TO:

Mr. Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizilay
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 3370

The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton
United States Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520, USA

The Honorable _________
Ambassador of the Turkey to [YOUR COUNTRY]
[POSTAL ADDRESS]
[FAX]
[EMAIL]
(See http://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkish-representations.en.mfa for a list of Turkish embassies and consulates worldwide.)

The Honorable _________
Ambassador of [YOUR COUNTRY] to Turkey
[POSTAL ADDRESS]
[FAX]
[EMAIL]

The Honorable Navanethem Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Scholars at Risk
New York University
194 Mercer St., 4th floor
New York, NY 10012 USA
Fax: +1 212 995-4402
scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu

To view a model letter of appeal, as well as a copy of SAR's letter, please visit: http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/Education-Advocacy/Alerts-Scholars-in-Prison.php.

[*]Update as of November 21, 2011: Scholars at Risk notes that Turkish authorities have not detailed the substance of any alleged improper links between the BDP, a legal registered party in Turkey, and the PKK or the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), the latter an umbrella organization that includes the outlawed PKK. Absent demonstration of an improper affiliation, which the BDP denies, it appears that authorities are basing the arrests and charges on nonviolent expression of opinions and ideas in support of lawful political objectives, in clear violation of Turkey's commitments under international human rights agreements.”

[**]Revision as of November 17, 2011: Original text read "signatory". While this remains correct, Turkey is also a party to the treaty, which implies additional commitment.


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