Turkey and academic freedom
It might be the middle of summer holidays, but the news from Turkey that’s gone worldwide in the last few days demands a response. It’s not Stockholm University’s place to take sides on political issues, but when there are threats to academic freedom and freedom of expression more generally, we have an obligation.
It is hard to see how the extensive suspensions and purges within institutions of higher learning and research, public and private, throughout the school system, didn’t have a substantial basis in Friday’s attempted military coup. Now, when over 1 500 deans have been suddenly suspended from their positions and when academics have been blocked from travelling abroad and those living abroad are recalled, it is not unreasonable to assume that this has some direct, causal connection with the coup attempt. On the contrary, it is hard to believe that this is not a direct attack on academic freedom, and freedom of thought and expression. This is particularly alarming. In times of political turmoil it is even more important to protect these freedoms – of opinions, of expression, of ideas and of research. All of these promote an open and democratic society.
Exchange with Turkey is particularly important for Stockholm University, particularly with universities and colleges. Our Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies (SUITS), founded in 2013 under King Carl XVI Gustaf and then-president Abdullah Gül, has already established a distinguished international centre for interdisciplinary research about Turkey, past and present. The Institute’s researchers have had a lot of media exposure recently. The visiting researchers from Turkey have been forced to alter their plans because they cannot get visas to leave the country. The student union has also expressed concern for the Turkish students currently at Stockholm University. The new Turkish restrictions threaten the international cooperation that is an essential part of academic exchanges, which are particularly important in this time of global challenges.
July 25, 2016
Source: External Relations and Communications Office