Turkish academics who have openly criticized Turkey’s military crackdown on ethnic Kurdish communities are now feeling the wrath of their government. In recent days, the government arrested 33 academics. Although all have since been released, ScienceInsider has learned, 15 have been fired from their university posts. Today, Turkey’s Science Academy released a statement objecting to the government’s “wrong and disturbing” reaction in what is mushrooming into yet another crisis for the nation’s academic community.
Human rights organizations as well as the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine have criticized Turkey and called on it to respect freedom of speech. "This is a witch-hunt by the government," says Caghan Kizil, a Turkish neuroscientist based at the Dresden University of Technology in Germany. "It aims to silence the opposition with brutality and bullying." The U.S. National Academies "will continue to monitor the situation closely," says Martin Chalfie, the Nobel Prize–winning chemist who chairs the Academies’ Committee on Human Rights in Washington, D.C.