On May 21, 2019, the Istanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court sentenced Sabancı University professor Ayşe Gül Altınay to two years and one month imprisonment on a charge of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization as a non-member.”
The charge against Professor Gül Altınay is in relation to her endorsement of a petition criticising state and military actions in predominantly Kurdish areas of southeast Turkey. The petition, organised by a group known as “Academics for Peace,” was issued in January 2016 and initially signed by 1,128 scholars from 89 Turkish universities, as well as more than 300 scholars from outside the country. The petition demanded an end to fighting between Turkish forces and members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and called on the government to allow independent observers into the region, to end curfews, and renew peace efforts. Following the petition’s publication, a number of the signatories have faced criminal investigations and prosecutions.
On hearing her sentence Professor Gül Altinay issued the following statement:
“Every individual, every family living in this geography has suffered from past wars, migrations and experiences of violence.
In terms of the cycle of violence that trauma studies alert us to, we live in a challenging, vulnerable geography.
Yet, what we make of these past experiences of pain is up to us…
Are we going to turn our pain into more violence, hate, pain and injustice, or into steps that multiply life, beauty, love, peace and justice?
This is the main question that shapes my work and my life.
I firmly believe that we all have new steps we can take towards healing the traumas that have been transmitted from one generation to the other, and to break out of the cycles of violence that we are living through.”
Return to grantee stories