Turkish court hands dismissed law professor right to resume studies

A Turkish court on Monday cancelled an earlier decision barring law professor Cenk Yiğiter, an academic dismissed in 2017 for signing a peace petition, from returning to university to continue his studies, reported Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Yiğiter, a former law professor at Ankara University, was dismissed from his job by a decree for signing a petition calling for a peaceful end to Turkey’s three-decades-old conflict with Kurdish rebels. More than 400 signatories, known as Academics for Peace, have been removed from their positions at universities over the past two years, including Yiğiter.

Yiğiter was qualified to study at the Radio, Television and Cinema Department at Ankara University after he passed the university exam in 2017. But the university changed its bylaws in August 2017, the day exam results were announced, adding the condition of "not being dismissed from public service" for enrollment at the university.

After a months-long legal struggle, Yiğiter won his lawsuit against the university. The court cancelled the bylaw change, citing Human Rights Universal Declaration Article 26, which states, "Everyone has the right to education", and the European Convention of Human Rights Article 2, stating, "No person shall be denied the right to education”.

Following the ruling, Yiğiter said on Twitter that the professors who had initiated the bylaw change should be ashamed.

"Two law professors, one is a professor of constitutional law, have their signs under the bylaw change that clearly violates the constitution and the international conventions that we are a part of,” he stated. “They need to be ashamed. Maybe they learn law a bit from the court decision."