Scholars Jailed in Turkey’s On-Going War Against Freedom of Expression: How You Can Take Action

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Esra Mungan, Muzaffer Kaya, Kıvanç Ersoy and Meral Camcı are academics currently held in pre-trial detention in Istanbul after they held a press conference on 10 March 2016, reiterating their support for a statement they had signed in January. The appeal for peace criticizing ongoing curfews and security operations in south eastern Turkey and calling for a resumption of peace talks between Turkey and the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) initially attracted 1,128 academics across Turkey. A further 1,084 academics since signed to appeal, bringing the total to 2,212 signatories.

Esra Mungan, Muzaffer Kaya, Kıvanç Ersoy and Meral Camcı are academics currently held in pre-trial detention in Istanbul after they held a press conference on 10 March 2016.

Turkey has suffered from a series of horrendous attacks in recent months.  The security challenges it faces are very real. Unfortunately, the rhetoric coming out of Ankara suggests that, under the umbrella of fighting terrorism, the most basic civil liberties are to be targeted.

Citizens from all walks of life, including journalists, scholars, lawyers, and thirteen year olds sharing stuff on facebook, have all been targeted by the Turkish authorities simply for expressing ideas that the government doesn’t like.  Turkey’s current campaign against academics who signed a “peace petition” is emblematic of a much larger problem.  It is time to take action.  It is time to add your voice to those calling on Turkey to respect the most basic rights of freedom of expression.

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Turkish Women Desperately Need Access to Women's Shelters

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Turkish women shout slogans to denounce honour crimes and violence against women in the country. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Congratulations to Turkey for becoming the first country to sign a tough new European Convention to combat violence against women.  Now, it is time for the Turkish government to get serious about protecting its own female citizens from honor killings and spousal abuse.

The murder of women continues to increase dramatically in Turkey–since last October, there have been more than 264 cases reported in the Turkish press–but the number of secure women’s shelters where women under threat can take refuge remains woefully inadequate.

The Turkish government recommended in 2005 that municipalities with more than 50,000 people have women’s shelters.  Given its population of 75 million, this means there should be 1,400 women’s shelters in Turkey.  There are 65, and not all are up to European standards.

When Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, signed the European Convention to Prevent and Combat Violence Against Women on May 11, he said “Turkey is ready to do all [necessary] work to stop violence against women.”  Let’s hope that pledge includes funding an adequate number of shelters where women can seek refuge from violence and death threats.