Cihan Erdal is a doctoral researcher and peace activist in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University in Ottawa and a member of Canadian Union of Public Employees.

He is a former central executive committee member of the left-wing opposition party, HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), a legal political party in Turkey. It is the country’s third largest party. Erdal had joined HDP in 2014 to advocate for pluralism, peace, democracy, and human rights in Turkey and beyond.

He had recently returned to Turkey to visit family and conduct fieldwork with Turkish and European youth for his doctorate. Unexpectedly, on the morning of September 25th, 2020, Cihan was detained and later imprisoned alongside 16 other academics, activists, and politicians. Since 2016, the Turkish government has imprisoned hundreds of students and academics, leading Human Rights Watch to denounce them for generating self-censorship and hollowing out academic freedom in the country.

Accusations against Cihan and arrest circumstances

Cihan has no previous arrest, detention or prison sentence, and no proof has been presented to corroborate the accusations made regarding his involvement in any kinds of crimes. More worryingly, Cihan was denied access to legal representation for 36 hours, his lawyers were not given access to the case folder due to secrecy concerns and they were not informed of the accusations against his client until the very last minute.

Cihan is currently held in solitary confinement pending trial. He has minimal access to the outside world, clean clothes, sufficient food, or his school materials including his books and notes.

Cihan strongly refuses any accusations and clearly states that he is a peaceful researcher and a human rights advocate who defends the lives of others. He demands his immediate and unconditional release so that he can continue to build his promising scholarly career in his chosen home country of Canada.

Help us #freeCihanErdal!

We call on Canadian and Turkish authorities to take urgent action and demand Cihan Erdal’s immediate release and safe return to Canada!

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Read more on CTV News:

Cihan Erdal speaks at Green Left Academy of Turkey in Istanbul, May 26, 2017
(Archival video with English subtitles)

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