Worrying news from Turkey

One should of course be concerned when anybody is detained for spurious reasons, but when that person is a noted mathematician, the shock is greater. Six academics have recently been detained in Turkey, of whom one, Betül Tanbay, is due to become vice president of the European Mathematical Society in January. I do not know of any petitions for their release, but if they are not released very quickly I hope that there will be a strong reaction. The EMS has issued the following statement.

The European Mathematical Society is outraged at the news that the Turkish police have detained, in Istanbul on the morning of 16th November 2018, Professor Betül Tanbay, a member of the EMS Executive Committee. We are incredulous at the subsequent press release from the Istanbul Security Directorate accusing her of links to organized crime and attempts to topple the Turkish government.

Professor Tanbay is a distinguished mathematician and a Vice President Elect of the European Mathematical Society, due to assume that role from January 2019. We have known her for many years as a talented scientist and teacher, a former President of the Turkish Mathematical Society, an open-minded citizen, and a true democrat. She may not hesitate to exercise her freedom of speech, a lawful right that any decent country guarantees its citizens, but it is preposterous to suggest that she could be involved in violent or criminal activities.

We demand that Professor Tanbay is immediately freed from detention, and we call on the whole European research community to raise its voice against this shameful mistreatment of our colleague, so frighteningly reminiscent of our continent’s darkest times.

Update. I have just seen this on Twitter:

Police freed 8 people, incl. professors Turgut Tarhanli and Betul Tanbay, while barring them from overseas travel, & is still questioning 6 others

7 Responses to “Worrying news from Turkey”

  1. Yemon Choi Says:

    For what it’s worth, I found this update http://bianet.org/english/law/202720-prof-dr-betul-tanbay-released (Caveat: I don’t know anything about the website, it’s mission, etc., but I have no reason to doubt the account that’s given there.)

  2. Winston Says:

    My comment is not about the situation in Turkey and the unjustified detention of Betül Tanbay but about the underlying issue of protecting academic freedom. I am sure we all agree that academic freedom should be protected and scholars should not be threatened with job loss on political grounds or for engaging in academic enquiry on controversial topics. With this in mind I urge everyone here to read this article and add their name to the petition at the end of the article.


    • Yemon Choi Says:

      Whatever one’s views on the story you link to, posting your comment on this thread seems rather tendentious and (speaking only for myself) faintly offensive, given the realities faced by academics in Turkey over the last few years.

      In contrast: I don’t have any issue with the similar comment you posted on one of the Ted Hill threads, even if we are probably on different sides of that particular debate, because that seemed like an appropriate place to make such a comment.

    • Winston Says:

      Dear Yemon Choi, yes, my comment was certainly tendentious, and of course the situation is Turkey is in absolute terms much worse than what is going on here, but the Noah Carl episode (and other similar ones recently) is one that the people here can make a real difference, and I felt that this was appropriate to post it here. Also speaking for myself, the threat to academic freedom from misguided social justice activists is far more horrifying and crucial to counter than the threat from autocratic governments. Oppression of academics by authoritarian regimes is neither new nor unexpected; mobbing by academics in this manner is, and represents the greater threat in my view.

  3. Jalel Bouharb Says:

    It does’nt make sense from EMS or any other person or institution to ask any government i n the world to release anybody! this is contrary to basic principles of diplomacy!!! Nobody asks english, german, french, usa governmets, or any other governments to not jail such or such a person because one thinks that person is nice, good, peaceful, democratic, intteligent, larned, wel appreciated by everybody, or anything else!!! this is because every country in the world has its own laws and every sovereign state will apply its own laws! However, in what’s called “the West”, ie Europe, North America mainly, ( areas that don’t at all to qualify to be unequivocally called “The West” nor “The East”!), there is a vey huge propganda that is very efficient to brainwash everybody, among their own citizens first of all, ( which is very indicative that none of the counries in “The West” is really a democracy as it claims, but rather ahypocritic dikttorship disguised intoa faint “democracy”!), and which tends to make evrybody believe that in “The West” only bad criminal people go to pruison, while in all other place sin the World, ( especailly the Arab World from which I come!), it’s filled up of diktators who just jail everybody for nthing!!! In the case of this turkish mathematician, nobody really knows why Turkish autorities have jailed him, but everybody seems to be outraged by this fact! However, I must remind all of you that in turkey too, THEY HACE LAWS, TRIBUNALS and also LAWYERS to defend every person that is arrested or detained!!! And to know before habd taht this turkish mathematician is wrongly jailed rests basically on the hypothesis, ( which is maybe unquestionable for all of you, but NOT FOR ME!), that this person has BROKEN NO TURKISH LAW! And this supposes taht: 1) ALL OF YOU KNOW PERFECTLY ALL TURKISH LAWS, and 2) ALL OF YOU HAVE A COMPLETE COPY OF THE FILES SUBMITTED TO THE TURKISH JUDGES ALLOWING YOU TO KNOW FOR SURE THAT THI MPATHEMATICIAN IS WRONGLY DETAINED!!! And, last, believe it or not, i’m not defending Turkish authorities, and teh afct that this mathematicain is turkish or not, detained in Turkey or not, is irrelevant! By the way, mathematicians too can break the laws in the countries where the live, maybe even by ignoring them liiterally. And also, let me tell you i’m a tunisian living in france since 40 years, and I do know France, its laws, judges, tribunals, etc, much better than many people living in france, and i can assure you that what EMS complains about in turkey, if she knew about France, i’m sure they’ll simply forget Turkey! By the way, i lived in my youth 1 year in Switzerland and went to england for jsut ONLY 2 WEEKS, BUT THE OPINION I HAVE ON ENGLISH POLICE AND TRIBUNALS IS SO AWFUL THAT, ALTHOUGHT I NEVER VISITED TURKEY, I THINK UP TO THIS DAY THAT ENGLISH POLICE IS MUCH WORSE THAN GERMAN POLICE IN WW 1939-45!!!

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