Turkish academics still face travel ban despite lifting of state of emergency - DW

The travel ban placed on Turkey’s academics in the aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt remains in effect despite Ankara calling an end to the country’s two-year long state of emergency rule earlier this year, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

More than 150,000 public officials were fired under a string of emergency decrees issued since July 2016 without due process, including more than 4500 academics.

Unable to leave the country due to the ongoing travel ban, academics are being prevented from conducting research and attending seminars abroad, which greatly hinders their careers, DW noted.

“For one, I cannot, under any circumstance, apply for a passport. It is not possible for me to participate in any academic activity abroad. As an academic, I cannot take advantage of any study abroad bursary, either,’’ it quoted Tezcan Durna of Ankara University as saying.

Durna is just one of thousands of academics who lost not only their salaries, students and universities, but their passports, too.

The 43-year-old is one of the signatories of a petition asking the government to discontinue the heavy-handed way they were dealing with the Kurdish citizens in Turkey’s southeast.

The group known as Academics for Peace have been labelled by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as equivalent to terrorists for their signatures on the petition which arrived on the heels of the collapse of a two-and-a-half year ceasefire between the state and the PKK, negotiated by Erdoğan’s government, in July 2015 after his party failed to win a majority in general elections. 

“We were fired from academia for defending democracy and desiring a free university environment, that much we know,’’ Duran noted, “But why the passport ban?’’

The only way that academics who have been sacked through a state of emergency decree and given a travel ban can resolve their problems is through being reinstated as civil servants and given their passports back, DW noted.

Thousands are waiting on a decision by the State of Emergency Commission to this end.

The commission, as of November, has accepted only 40,000 out of 125,000 applications for reinstatement, rejecting  37,300, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.