Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that the disciplinary penalties given by universities to members of the Academics for Peace -- a group who have been dismissed from their university jobs through statutory decrees after signing a 2016 petition -- had violated their right to freedom of speech and expression.
This is the second time that the top court ruled a violation of rights for the academics. Accordingly, the court ordered authorities to pay the academics between 10,000-13,000 liras in non-pecuniary damages.
The top court's decision was taken by unanimous vote and among its signatories was Judge İrfan Fidan, who had launched an investigation into 733 Academics for Peace when he was serving as the Istanbul deputy chief prosecutor.
Over 1,000 academics signed the petition called “We will not be a party to this crime” in early 2016 to urge the government to cease its military operations in the country’s Kurdish majority southeast, where days-long curfews and military conflict were devastating locals.
Often called the "Academics for Peace," the petition's signatories were later tried on terrorism charges and were fired from their posts by government decrees adopted within the framework of the state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
On 26 July 2019, in a landmark decision, the Constitutional Court ruled that criminal charges against the academics violated their constitutional right. Yet, as of today, despite the dropping of the criminal charges, none of the signatories of the petition has been returned to their jobs in academia.