Mar 04 2018

Fear and loathing in Turkey

The effects of Turkey’s climate of fear, nationalism and paranoia on academics is the subject of an article in Greek newspaper Kathimerini by academic Katerina Delacoura.

Delacoura who visited Turkey last month, describes how one of the academics she meets in Ankara, a Syrian expert, explains is too dangerous to publish scholarly analysis of the situation on the ground, let alone criticism of Ankara’s policies, for fear of retribution.

Another academic she talks to is on trial for conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional order following 2016’s attempted coup. The evidence against her consists of newspaper articles she wrote years earlier. To a government addicted to conspiratorial thinking they represent an attempt to manipulate opinion in a way that supported the coup attempt. Delacoura is also introduced to another academic who lost her job when the university she worked at was shut down due its links to the Gülen movement, which Turkish authorities insist was behind the coup.

Things are much the same in Eskişehir, a city between Ankara and the Aegean. Here an academic with a Kurdish background describes how she has been called to rector’s office to account for her frequent trips abroad, patiently explaining that attending international conferences is part of an academic’s duties.   

“Suspicion and intolerance divides both Turks and Kurds and the opponents of the AKP government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from their supporters.” Delacoura reflects, “It seems that the ills of old are coming together with those of the “new” Turkey, with no end in sight.”