Ottawa Citizen Op-Ed by Kennelly: Turkey must release Carleton University PhD student on legal grounds

Cihan Erdal’s case must be viewed not only through the lens of academic freedom and human rights, but also through the rule of law.

Jacqueline Kennelly

Publishing date: Oct 07, 2020

The detention of Cihan Erdal, a PhD student in sociology at Carleton University, has sparked a wave of outrage from academics and members of the public across the country and the globe. An open letter calling for his release has garnered more than 1,600 signatures from Canadians. After only one day of circulation, a second letter geared towards international academics has 260 signatures, and is growing.

Erdal is currently a permanent resident of Canada, having settled here with his partner who works for a Canadian HR company. He had travelled to Turkey in August of 2020 to visit his elderly parents and conduct some basic fieldwork for his doctorate when he was caught up in a sweep of arrests.

The Canadian government is obliged to move carefully here. As a Canadian permanent resident who continues to carry Turkish citizenship, Erdal is bound by the Turkish legal system under the Vienna Convention. As its ally, Canada can and should help Turkey avoid a legal contradiction and support the release of Cihan Erdal on fundamental legal grounds so that he can continue to build his promising scholarly career in his chosen home country of Canada.

Dr. Jacqueline Kennelly is a Full Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University, and Cihan Erdal’s doctoral supervisor.

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