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ECtHR asks Turkey to submit its defense in case of peace academics

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has asked Turkey to submit its defense in the case of 81 academics who were dismissed from their jobs for signing a peace declaration in 2016, the Gazete Karınca news website reported on Wednesday.

“The ECtHR has informed the government about the application by 81 ‘Academics for Peace’ who had been dismissed from their jobs on charges of signing the ‘Peace Declaration’ with a state of emergency decree and who were denied their fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the right to effective remedies against violations to the government,” lawyer Ayşe Bingöl said on Twitter.

A total of 1,128 academics who referred to themselves as the “Academics for Peace” signed a declaration in early 2016 calling on the government to halt operations by security forces in southeastern Turkey, restore peace to the nation and return to the negotiating table to restart shelved talks to find a peaceful solution to the so-called Kurdish problem.

The move attracted widespread criticism from the government. Many of the signatories have been dismissed from their positions, sentenced to prison or face an overseas travel ban.

Bingöl indicated that the court enquired about the reason for the dismissal of the applicants, asking questions implying violations of the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, the right to a fair trial and the right to respect for private and family life, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Noting that the court also asked questions regarding whether the state of emergency commission, set up by the Turkish government to examine complaints from people who were adversely affected by government decrees during a state of emergency in Turkey declared following a failed coup in 2016, constitutes an effective remedy, Bingöl drew attention to the court focusing on the length of examinations by the commission.

Bingöl further noted that the court also asked the government to comment on the purposes sought other than as set forth in the convention regarding restrictions on rights. “Any ruling by the ECtHR regarding these applications will be of concern for thousands of people who were dismissed from the job with a state of emergency decree and who were condemned to the impasse of domestic laws,” she said.

The European court also recalled that the applicants had applied to the Constitutional Court claiming violation of rights enshrined in Articles 6 ,7 , 8, 10, 11, 13, and 14 of the convention and that the Constitutional Court had declined to hear the case on the grounds that domestic remedies had not been exhausted.

After the initial signatories were targeted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, more academics decided to sign it in an act of solidarity, with the total number exceeding 2,000.

A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed in the aftermath of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Professors, associate professors and lecturers from nearly all universities in Turkey were targeted in the government’s post-coup crackdown.

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