March 28, 2017
Thursday March 30th marks the 100th day of imprisonment of Professor Istar Gozaydin, lately Chair of the Department of Sociology at Turkey’s Gediz University. Dr Gozaydin is an especially prominent observer of government policy and of the state’s religious affairs directorate (Diyanet). Her lengthy detention and the charges filed against her on March 17th reflect an extreme case in a developing pattern of infringement of freedom in Turkey.
A founder of Turkey’s branch of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly in the 1990’s, Dr Gozaydin has long pursued research and action within the public sphere. She was suspended from her academic duties at Gediz University for re-tweeting an admonition against the death penalty several days after the coup attempt failed in Turkey on July 15-16, 2016. Just one week following the coup attempt, the university was shuttered by Turkey’s Higher Education Council. According to Clare Robinson, Advocacy Director of the Scholars at Risk Network, Gozaydin is one among 5,913 personnel recently dismissed from the higher education system by government order. Robinson further notes that “these closures and dismissals are only the beginning. Scholars at Risk has verified at least 607 detentions of, or warrants issued for, higher education personnel and at least 148 prosecutions of scholars, students, and other higher education personnel.”
Dr Gozaydin is charged with membership in the Gülen religious and social movement, which the government of Turkey refers to as a terrorist organization that it has taken to be the source of the 2016 coup attempt.