Ms. Füsun Üstel is a well-known professor in the field of political science. She used to be a faculty member of the Department of Political Science at Galatasaray University, a reputable institution, in which she also served as the Chair. Apart from her academic studies, she has a long history in civil society organizations, including the Citizens Assembly and History Foundation.
She was forced to retire from her position at the university after signing the Academics for Peace petition (see further down), published January 11, 2016. She was charged and convicted for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” by the İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court. In April 2018, Ms. Füsun Üstel was sentenced to one year and and three months imprisonment.
Early May, a few weeks later, Ms. Füsun Üstel’s lawyers appealed to the court of deferment of the verdict, but her appeal was denied. A complaint in her case is now pending at the Constitutional Court.
On February 25, 2019 the 3rd Panel Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice has upheld the prison sentence of one year and three months previously given her. Thus, the prison sentence given to Ms. Üstel on April 4, 2019 has become definite and she submitted herself to Eskişehir Women’s Closed Prison on May 8, 2019.
On July 22, 2019 she was released by the suspension of the execution.
On 26 July 2019, the Constitutional Court found that the right to freedom of expression was violated in the charging of ten academics, including Füsun Üstel, for signing a peace petition. Following this ruling, due to Üstel’s lawyers application to the İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court, she has been acquitted of the charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” on 18 October 2019.
ACADEMICS FOR PEACE TRIALS
The petition “We will not be a party to this crime” was signed by 1128 academicians from 89 universities on 11 January 2016 calling for permanent solutions for peace and for an end to the violence targeting people of the region, especially during the curfews, after the resumption of the armed conflict following the collapse of peace process.
On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a petition entitled ‘We will not be party to this crime’(Bu Suça Ortak Olmayacağız). They demanded the state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the Kurdish in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre and Silopi and other places in the Kurdish regions
This petition was part of the Academics for Peace initiative, founded in 2012 in response to a Kurdish prisoners’ hunger strike. Hundreds of academics, from fifty universities, came together and decided to work for a peace process in Turkey. They wanted to contribute by sharing knowledge and producing information on topics like peacebuilding, education in native languages and the destruction of the environment through war.
Well over 2,000 academics have now signed the petition. Hundreds of them have been fired from their jobs, their passports have been cancelled and confiscated, several were physically and verbally threatened. Over 450 academics have been arrested and have stood trial. They we accused of ‘propagandising on behalf of a terrorist organisation’ under the Article 7/2 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.
Despite the repression, threats and harassment, a great majority of academics have continued to stand behind their initial statement and collectively support each other.
On 26 July 2019, the Constitutional Court found that the right to freedom of expression was violated in the charging of ten academics for signing a peace petition. Following this ruling, the first academic was acquitted on 6 September 2019. As of January 8, 2020, the number of academics acquitted in 56 court cases is 567.
* Click here for the hearing statistics.