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Who is Cihan?
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 his 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, kept in solitary confinement for the first 21 days, his lawyers were not informed of the accusations against his client until the very last minute and they are still not given access to the case folder due to secrecy concerns.
His fundamental human rights, right to education and a fair trial are still being violated. 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.
News from Canada
Learn more from CBC News:
Read from CTV News:
Cihan’s research is on youth-led social movements in Europe, including in Turkey, focused on the stories of young people about their involvement in social movements. His work is in no way critical of the Turkish state. His research passed a formal proposal defense, and his research ethics proposal was approved before the COVID-19 pandemic began. He was beginning interviews online, while awaiting approval under the new pandemic ethics process to begin face to face interviews in Turkey, Greece, and France.
Here is what his professor Dr. Jacqueline Kennelly wrote about him;
“Cihan is an outstanding student. He won an Ontario Graduate Scholarship last year, along with other internal departmental scholarships each year he has been here. He has been working with me as a Research Assistant on various projects, most recently as the coordinator of the Centre for Urban Youth Research, which I direct. He is an extraordinarily hard worker, and an extremely smart and accomplished academic with several publications in both Turkish and English.”
· Cihan’s profile on the Centre for Urban Youth Research
· Cihan received Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) Program award
Along with his academic work, Erdal has been involved in social movements as an activist and human rights advocate for over a decade. He took roles in several political initiatives particularly on youth, left, LGBTI+. Erdal also hosted a weekly web-based TV program on youth and politics in 2017.
Below, Cihan Erdal speaks at Green Left Academy of Turkey in Istanbul, May 26, 2017 (Video with subtitles in English/Turkish)
07/2017 – Carleton University, PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ottawa, Canada.
09/2016 – Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, PhD Candidate at Institute of Social Sciences, Sociology Department, Istanbul, Turkey. GPA: 4.00
09/2014 – 06/2016 Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, MA., Sociology Department, Istanbul, Turkey. GPA: 4.00
09/2006 – 06/2011 Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, B.A., Turkish Literature Department, Istanbul, Turkey.
Toplumsal Hareketler ve Bellek İlişkisi: Yas ve Anmadan Hayaletler Siyasetine (The Relationship between Social Movements and Memory: From Mourning and Remebrance to Politics of Ghosts) co-editor with Derya Fırat, Birikim Journal, December 2019.
2000’li Yılların Solunda Abiler Siyasetinin Muteberliği; Abilik Kurumuna Gençlerin Gözünden Bakmak (Looking into the Institution of Abilik (Big Brotherhood) Through the Youth Perspective), Youth Research Funding Publications, January 2018.
Yaş, Deneyim ve Cinsiyet Merkezli Hiyerarşi Karşısında Aktivist Yönelimler (Investigating activist youth dispositions against age, experience and gender based hierarchy in the 2000s), Youth Research Journal, Vol 2. October 2017.
Devrimci Bir Pusula: Gezi (A Revolutionary Compass: Gezi), co-editor with Derya Fırat, June 2017, Ayrıntı Publications, Istanbul.
Devrimci Melankoli ve Hayaletlerle Düşünmek (Left Melancholia and Thinking with Spectres) in A Revolutionary Compass: Gezi (Co-edit. Derya Fırat and Cihan Erdal), Ayrıntı Publications, June 2017.
Meşrunun Alacakaranlığı, Kuşağın Şafağı (The Twilight of Legitimacy, The Dawn of the Notion of Generation) in A Revolutionary Compass: Gezi (Co-edit. Derya Fırat and Cihan Erdal), Ayrıntı Publications, June 2017.
2000’li Yıllarda Türkiye Solunda Abilik; Gençliğin Anti-gerontokrat Politik Kültürü (The Big Brotherhood in Turkey’s Left in 2000s; Anti-Gerontocratic Political Culture of Youth), Master Thesis.