Some 2,500 academics worldwide have signed a petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal, a PhD candidate and researcher at Carleton University in Canada and an LGBT activist, who was detained in Istanbul on Sept. 25.
Famed scholars Enzo Traverso, Judith Butler, Etienne Balibar, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Toni Negri and Wendy Brown are among the names who signed the petition titled “#FreeCihanErdal.”
Erdal, 32, was detained in an operation targeting Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over 2014 Kobane protests and was arrested on Oct. 2.
The party is accused of inciting violence during the protests, which erupted over the Turkish government’s inaction in protecting Syrian Kurds as ISIS besieged Kobane, just across the Syrian border. The protests between Oct. 6 and 8 turned deadly, as members of Turkish Hizbullah also took to the streets.
The HDP previously called for the establishment of a commission to investigate the protests.
The petition for Erdal’s release said that he was in Istanbul for his doctoral fieldwork on youth-led social movements in Europe.
Before moving to Canada for his studies at Carleton University, Erdal was a member of the HDP as a youth representative of the party in 2014. He is currently the coordinator for the Center for Urban Youth Research in Canada.
“This unfair and inappropriate accusation endangers the future of a promising and brilliant young researcher in the social sciences,” read the petition.
“We academics and researchers around the world defend Cihan Erdal and demand that the Turkish government free Cihan and that the Canadian government support his release. We kindly request that university and academic institutions worldwide support Cihan Erdal, so that he may continue his research in freedom,” it added.
Carleton University previously called for international support to secure his release.