December arrest by Turkish authorities of Professor İştar Gözaydın

Dear Colleague,

Istar Gozaydin is an intellectual, a human rights activists and an important scholar of Turkish society and politics. After the coup she expressed her views, condemning the coup but opposing the death penalty. She was dismissed from her job shortly after the coup attempt and close to three months ago was arrested on charges that have not been made public. She has been incarcerated since 20 December.

A new petition from scholars around the world calls for her release. Please see below the petition, and where to send an e-mail.

I also ask you to copy this text and circulate this request among colleagues by facebook or e-mail lists, to increase exposure and support. Organizers ask that no signatures be collected from within Turkey, to ensure personal safety and to ensure that the petition’s message will not be characterized as political alignment.
Petition text:
Please email name and academic affiliation to:
Further information is available at:

Thank you.

Summary of the case to date

Professor İştar Gözaydın was Department Chair of Sociology of Gediz University until her suspension 21 July 2016. Gediz was among 15 private universities closed by Turkish authorities on 23 July 2016. Professor Gözaydın is a founder of the Turkish branch of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly and has also consulted on behalf of EuroFEM and the European Court of Human Rights. She was detained at her home by Turkish authorities early on the morning of 20 December 2016 and transported from Istanbul to İzmir. She remains incarcerated in İzmir to the present. The charges are not public record under Turkey’s state of emergency provisions. Corrections February 4. Last update March 17, 2017.

Address for expressions of sympathy (still current, all mail is vetted by authorities):

İştar Gözaydın
Aliağa Ceza İnfaz Kurumları Kampüsü
İzmir Kadın Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Müdürlüğü
Koğuş B1 BahçeDere Köyü Yenişakran 35800

Further information may be gathered from the International Development Ethics Association President Eric Palmer, ericpalmer[zero,zero,zero,at]


More details below:

  • Biographical material
  • Opportunities for action
  • Timeline and news
  • IDEA Spanish-language appeal of past-President Luis Camacho, and letter from Costa Rican Philosophical Association, further below.
  • IDEA board letter to government of Turkey: at bottom of this page

Biography from İştar Gözaydın is a professor of law and politics who received her MCJ (Master of Comparative Jurisprudence) at New York University, School of Law (1987); and Ph.D. at Istanbul University (1992). Gözaydın is a founder member of the executive committee of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, a human rights organization in Turkey. Professor Gözaydın was a research fellow at the University of London, Birkbeck College in 2009. Gozaydin’s publications include “Management of Religion in Turkey”: the Diyanet and Beyond” in Özgür Heval Çınar &  Mine Yıldırım  (ed.s): Freedom of Religion and Belief in Turkey, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne 2014, 10-35; “Ahmet Davutoğlu: Role as an Islamic Scholar Shaping Turkey’s Foreign Policy” in Nassef Manabilang Adiong (ed.): Islam and International Relations: Diverse Perspectives, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013; “Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı,” in John L. Esposito (ed): Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, Oxford University Press,  February 2009; “The Fethullah Gülen Movement and Politics in Turkey : a chance for Democratization or a Trojan Horse?:” Democratization, vol. 16 no. 6 (December 2009), 1214-1236.

Opportunities for Action

Open for signatures until 26 March — a petition intended for women of Turkey as (instructions) and (petition).

Open for signatures

To sign, please email name and academic affiliation to:

Open for signatures: December 29 Petition to free Professor İştar Gözaydın (Turkish, English, German):

Open for signatures: Scholars at Risk: Letter of appeal on behalf of detained scholars in Turkey:

Facebook (for posting and sharing):

Other suggestions for action:


Timeline: news and status updates

For status updates:

Dec 20: İştar Gözaydın detained 5:30 AM and transported from Istanbul to Izmir.

December 20: Ahmet Erdi Öztürk and İştar Gözaydın publish criticism of proposed changes to Turkish Constitution:

December 21: Middle East Studies Association expresses concern regarding arrest:

December 24: International Development Ethics Association expresses concern regarding arrest (see below)

December 27: charges placed. (Charges not public record under Turkey’s state of emergency provisions)
Spouse Iskender Savasir writes, Dec 27: “Ishtar’s morale is very good, she’s in the right place. He says thank you for the support. She’s been reading the Republic. It’s a very nice, 8-bedroom, 2-Storey Ward. She’s with 7-8 young judges and prosecutors, but she has her own room.”

December 29: Costa Rican Philosophical Association expresses concern regarding arrest (see below).

January 4 2017: Turkish parliament extends state of emergency for three further months.

January 11:  Scholars at Risk writes, in an email circular: “On January 6, state authorities issued a decree ordering the dismissal of 631 academic personnel and 155 higher education administrative personnel, on suspicion of connection to July’s violent coup attempt. … This brings the total number of higher education personnel in the higher education sector dismissed through emergency decrees since the coup attempt to 5,583.”

January 27: Request denied for release on own recognizance prior to trial date.

January 28: An editorial letter to Times Higher Education supplement discusses the conditions of academic freedom and the Turkish national higher education system.

February 24: Law Society of Upper Canada “expresses grave concern about the detention of Dr. Istar Gozaydin”:—the-law-society-of-upper-canada-expresses-grave-concern-about-the-detention-of-dr-itar-gozaydn-in-turkey-614723014.html

March 13: American Political Science Association expresses its concern regarding the detention of Prof. Gozaydin:

March 17: Dr. Karabekir Akkoyunlu writes a Huffington Post entry concerning academic freedom in Turkey that features Gozaydin:


Letter from Costa Rican Philosophical Association, 29 December 2016:

URGENTE: arresto de İştar Gözaydın , organizador de congreso de la Asociación Internacional de Ética del desarrollo en Turquía.

Dr.Luis Camacho

Cofundador, Asociación Internacional de Ética del Desarrollo (International Development Ethics Association, IDEA)

Presidente, Asociación Costarricense de Filosofía

La Asociación Internacional de Etica del Desarrollo (International Development Ethics Association, IDEA, fundada en Costa Rica en 1984 y de la cual soy uno de los fundadores) había planeado un evento de gran importancia para junio 2016 en Turquía : el XI Congreso de IDEA , dedicado al tema de la corrupción como obstáculo para el  desarrollo democrático. Dadas las condiciones en Turquía, en marzo de este año los organizadores locales  y  la directiva de IDEA acordaron suspenderlo y trasladarlo tentativamente a junio 2017.

A raíz del golpe de Estado ocurrido en julio de este año , gran número de académicos en numerosas instituciones de enseñanza superior han sido detenidos. Ahora nos enteramos de que el 19 de diciembre la policía turca detuvo a uno de los  principales organizadores del Congreso, İştar Gözaydın, junto con otros 32 académicos de la Universidad Gediz, una de las 15 instituciones cerradas por órdenes del primer  ministro Tayyip Erdogan después del golpe de Estado.

Para más información sobre este lamentable hecho se pueden visitar los siguientes sitios: , , , .

La Directiva de IDEA se encuentra en estos momentos ocupada en gestionar la liberación de los detenidos y ha enviado una carta que se puede leer en .

El Presidente de IDEA, Dr. Eric Palmer, nos ha pedido dar a conocer la situación en los medios sociales y apoyar la carta enviada por la asociación  Scholars At Risk en relación con la violación de la libertad de cátedra en Turquía .  Dicha carta se encuentra en la siguiente dirección:

También se encuentra información en .

Como Presidente de la Asociación Costarricense de Filosofía  (ACOFI) también pido  lo mismo a los miembros de nuestra Asociación.

Sabanilla de Montes de Oca, 29 de diciembre 2016.

ACOFI (Costa Rica Philosophical Association) letter to Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey: see link: acofi-gozaydin-letter


IDEA board letter to government of Turkey

December 24 2016

To: Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım

Office of Prime Minister


06573 Ankara, Turkey

The governing board of the International Development Ethics Association (IDEA) notes with great concern the December 19 arrest by Turkish authorities of Professor İştar Gözaydın and other personnel of the recently shuttered Gediz University. News has reached us that Gözaydın, who was dismissed from Gediz shortly following the July 15 coup attempt, has more recently been swept up in a recent mass-arrest, with a warrant for her arrest alongside those for thirty-two others at the university.

Professor Gözaydın is a prominent Turkish intellectual, a clear and important voice who was also a key organizer for an international congress that the Association had scheduled for last summer in Istanbul. The governing board of the Association felt the need to postpone the conference in light of security issues, with hope to re-commence planning for the near future. At the time, board members also felt concern regarding freedom of academic speech in Turkey, but had hoped to convene at a later date, so as to support the Turkish community. The nation’s reputation for freedom had been greatly compromised early in 2016 through intimidation and detention of the supporters of the statement of the Turkish organization “Academics for Peace” (Barış için Akademisyenler). Following the events of July 15, our concerns regarding freedom of expression greatly increased, and the Board felt it necessary to suspend all planning in light of reports in the Turkish and international press concerning policies and actions pursued by the government of Turkey. The government’s closure of at least fifteen universities is indicative of a troubling approach, with years of precedent that have been catalogued by the Committee of Concerned Scientists. These developments have recently been followed by much worse, as detentions relating to several universities have mounted in December.

We are very much in agreement with our colleagues at Scholars at Risk, whom we here quote, as “concerned about the arbitrary suspension, arrest and detention of scholars as a part of sweeping actions taken by the State against higher education community members. While State authorities have a right to maintain order and respond to legitimate security concerns, such actions must comply with States’ human rights obligations, including those relating to freedom of association, due process, and academic freedom, which are protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.”

Academic speech, along with free critical expression more generally, has its role in democratic and just societies; we fear that its reduction will not serve the Turkish nation or its people. Alongside our colleagues at the Middle East Studies Association, we note that “Professor Gözaydın’s reputation is built on decades of internationally recognized scholarship, advocacy for human rights and the energy she brings to her role as a public intellectual.” We are of the view that it is for her speech that she has been persecuted. We ask that you reverse the course that has been set by Professor Gözaydın’s arrest and such arrests and purges of intellectuals generally.

Eric Palmer, President, on behalf of the governing board
of the International Development Ethics Association


  • Erol Ayyıldız, Governor of Izmir,, Fax: 90 232 441 91 83
  • Administrative Aide, Ozel Kalem Mudurlugu Fax: 90 312 403 62 82
  • Office of the Prime Minister, Fax:  90 312 422 26 67
  • Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights