Turkish top court contradicts its previous decision in case of teacher sanctioned for sharing a peace petition on social media

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The Constitutional Court of Turkey

According to the T24 news website, the Constitutional Court of Turkey has ruled that there were no rights violations in the case of a teacher who was disciplined for sharing a 2016 petition on social media. The petition was jointly released by academics. This decision contradicts the court’s previous ruling, which stated that the petition was an expression of freedom of expression.

According to the report, the court has concluded that the teacher’s social media post could have “inspired ideas that could lead to violent consequences.” The court found the disciplinary action “compatible with the democratic public order.”

The teacher of philosophy, G.Ş., who works at a public high school in Ankara, was officially reprimanded by the school administration. G.Ş. had shared a petition on social media. The petition was signed by hundreds of academics and called for a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in the southeast of Turkey, which is predominantly Kurdish. The government’s handling of the conflict was also criticized in the petition.

The court’s decision contrasted with a previous ruling from 2019. Back then, the court had found that the conviction of the academics who signed the petition violated their freedom of expression.

G.Ş. took his case to the Constitutional Court after losing in all lower courts.

Six years after the application was filed, the Supreme Court delivered its ruling. The court noted that the petition described Turkey’s military operations in regions with a majority Kurdish population as a deliberate and pre-planned massacre. The court also highlighted the potential influence of the petition, considering the applicant’s position as a teacher and civil servant.

The petition, signed by 1,128 academics in early 2016 and titled “Academics for Peace,” urged the Turkish government to halt security operations in southeastern Turkey. The academics called for the restoration of peace in the country and the resumption of negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue.

The term “Kurdish issue” is commonly used in public discussions in Turkey to describe the Kurdish population’s demand for equal rights and their struggle for recognition.

The petition attracted widespread criticism from the authorities. Many of the people who signed it were dismissed from their jobs, sent to prison, or banned from travelling abroad.

In its previous decision, the Constitutional Court stated that there was no evidence in the court’s reasoning for judgment beyond the assumption that those who wrote and signed the statement were acting on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) regarding the Peace Academics.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western partners.

After the initial signatories faced criticism from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, more academics joined the peace declaration in solidarity. The total number of signatories now exceeds 2,000.

The signatories were also among the 7,316 academics who lost their jobs due to executive emergency decrees issued after a coup attempt in 2016. The government’s post-coup crackdown affected professors and lecturers from almost all universities in Turkey, including the Peace Academics.

Despite a ruling in their favour from the top court and a few victories in administrative courts, many people who signed the document are still having trouble getting their jobs back or finding an effective way to address the rights violations they suffered over the past eight years.

Some universities have ignored administrative court orders to reinstate academics, and appeals courts have reversed the decisions made by lower courts.

Some of the academics have also been forced to resign or leave their jobs due to the non-renewal of their contracts.

Turkey’s anti-Some academics have been forced to resign or leave their positions because their contracts were not renewed.

After the failed coup in Turkey, the country carried out a purge that involved the removal of more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors. This action, according to many international observers, had a negative impact on legal professionals who remained in the judiciary.

The government of Erdoğan has also been criticized for replacing the removed judicial officials with young and inexperienced judges and prosecutors. These new appointees are said to have close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The World Justice Project (WJP) published the 2023 Rule of Law Index in late October. According to this index, Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries. This is a drop of one place compared to the previous year. This development confirms the erosion of the Turkish judiciary.

Source: SCF

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