The Plot and the Ivory Tower: Scholars targeted in the Ergenekon Trial

The Ergenekon trial, which dragged on for six years, finally made international headlines when it decided the fate of 275 suspects August 5.  Most reporting on the decisions handed down by the court focused on the life sentences given to the convicted Turkish generals.  Almost missing from the reports were sentences ranging from 10 to 23 years given to some of Turkey’s leading scientists and doctors.

A few days before the August 5 Ergenekon trial sentencing, the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies, a group made up of 79 national academies and scholarly societies around the world, issued a report on eight scientists and doctors who were accused of being part of a plot to overthrow the Turkish government.  The report concludes:

Given all of the information available to us, there appears to be no credible basis on which to judge any of our eight colleagues guilty of committing the crimes of which they have been accused.

Six of those colleagues—Mehmet Haberal, Fatih Hilmioglu, Riza Ferit Bernay, Mustafa Abbas Yurtkuran, Kemal Alemdaroglu, and Kemal Guruz– were part of the Ergenekon trial; all are rectors or former rectors of universities in Turkey. All were found guilty. Guruz, who was sentenced to 13 years and 11 months, will still be tried in September for his alleged role in the 1997 post-modern coup.

When the Human Rights Network report was released, Dr. Abdallah S. Daar, a member of the network executive committee, noted

I’m certain that I speak for all members of the Network’s Executive Committee in expressing our grave concern about the unjust charges brought against our eight scientific colleagues in Turkey.  We hope that the facts and recommendations presented in the report will, after due consideration by the Turkish government and its judiciary, help bring about the immediate release of those who are incarcerated and the exoneration of all eight of the accused.

Apparently, there was neither the time nor the willingness by the Turkish government to give the report due consideration.  To read the full report, click here.

Bill Jones,
Turkey Coordination Group, Amnesty International – USA

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