2,500 academics worldwide sign petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal – Duvar English

October 18, 2020

Some 2,500 academics worldwide, including famed international scholars Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Etienne Balibar, and Enzo Traverso, have signed a petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal, a PhD candidate and researcher at Carleton University in Canada and an LGBT activist, who was detained in Istanbul on Sept. 25.

Some 2,500 academics worldwide have signed a petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal, a PhD candidate and researcher at Carleton University in Canada and an LGBT activist, who was detained in Istanbul on Sept. 25.

Famed scholars Enzo Traverso, Judith Butler, Etienne Balibar, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Toni Negri and Wendy Brown are among the names who signed the petition titled “#FreeCihanErdal.”

Erdal, 32, was detained in an operation targeting Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over 2014 Kobane protests and was arrested on Oct. 2.

The petition for Erdal’s release said that he was in Istanbul for his doctoral fieldwork on youth-led social movements in Europe.

Before moving to Canada for his studies at Carleton University, Erdal was a member of the HDP as a youth representative of the party in 2014. He is currently the coordinator for the Center for Urban Youth Research in Canada.

Carleton University previously called for international support to secure his release.

Petition to release Carleton Sociology student Cihan Erdal garners international support

Friday, October 16, 2020

The ongoing detention of Cihan Erdal, a 32-year-old PhD student at Carleton University, has sparked a growing international movement advocating for his release.

More than 2,200 people, including famed international scholars Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Étienne Balibar and Enzo Traverso, have signed a petition supporting him.

Erdal, who is a permanent resident of Canada, has been living here since 2017. He and his partner, Omer Ongun, intend to make Canada their home. Erdal and Ongun travelled to Turkey in August 2020 to visit family, and Erdal stayed a few extra weeks to conduct fieldwork with Turkish and European youth for his doctorate.

Unexpectedly, on the morning of Sept. 25, 2020, Erdal was detained and later imprisoned alongside 16 other academics, activists and politicians.

“Cihan is an outstanding student,’’ says his PhD supervisor Jacqueline Kennelly.

“He won an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant 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 co-ordinator of the Centre for Urban Youth Research. He is an extraordinarily hard worker, and an extremely smart and accomplished academic with several publications in both Turkish and English.’’

Erdal is a former central executive committee member of the left-wing opposition party, HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), a legal political party in Turkey and currently the country’s third largest party.

The arrests came following an investigation regarding 2014 protests in support of the Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria against Islamic State (ISIS) militants. The prosecutor’s accusation appears to be largely based on HDP’s Twitter posts calling for demonstrators to join the democratic protests.

Erdal strongly refutes all accusations and has stated that he was not in attendance at HDP meetings where the issue was discussed, nor was he aware of any tweets regarding the protests of Oct. 6, 2014.

Erdal has no previous arrest, detention or prison sentence and, to date, no proof has been presented to corroborate the accusations made regarding his involvement in the protests.

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

Sign the petition to demand the release of Cihan Erdal here.

Read an opinion piece by Dr. Kennelly published in the Ottawa Citizen here.

For more information, contact Jacqueline Kennelly

The Leveller: Carleton University student arrested in Turkey

October 11, 2020

by Josh Lalonde

On September 25, Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 82 people, most of them members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP). One of those arrested, Cihan Erdal, is a PhD student in sociology at Carleton University and a Canadian permanent resident. Erdal’s partner Ömer Ongun, also a permanent resident, has not had contact with Erdal since receiving a phone call from him as he was about to be arrested.

A Turkish court ordered the detention of Erdal and 16 other former and current HDP officials and politicians on October 2, apparently on the basis of Twitter posts “calling on people to join the October 2014 demonstrations,” according to Human Rights Watch. According to the Free Cihan Erdal website, Erdal was not even present at the HDP meeting at which the posts were approved.

If convicted of “attempting to destroy the unity of the state,” one of many charges levelled by prosecutors at the HDP defendants, Erdal could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Canada’s response to Erdal’s arrest

The government of Canada has so far not commented publicly on the arrest. When reached by The Leveller, Global Affairs Canada did not answer detailed questions. Spokesperson John Babcock instead sent a statement saying, “Global Affairs Canada is aware of the detention of a permanent resident of Canada in Turkey. Our thoughts are with Mr Erdal’s family and loved ones during this difficult time. Canada has raised concerns with Turkish authorities and continues to monitor this case closely.” 

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University, where Erdal is a PhD student, has issued a statement condemning Erdal’s arrest “in the strongest possible terms.” According to CBC, the university has asked Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, the Canadian embassy in Turkey, and the Turkish embassy in Canada to help secure Erdal’s release.

The Executive Board of CUPE 4600, the union representing Carleton teaching assistants and contract instructors, likewise released a statement calling for Erdal’s “immediate release.” A number of other academic, labour and civil society organizations have released similar statements. A petition of scholars and academics across Canada calling for Erdal to be freed also drew hundreds of signatures, as did a public petition

As of the time of publication, Erdal remains in detention in Ankara. It is unclear whether or not he has been able to meet with a lawyer or whether the specific charges against him have been presented. Other HDP members arrested at the same time as Erdal have begun a “food boycott” in response to what they say was food poisoning from the meals provided in jail. The embassy of Turkey in Ottawa did not answer questions regarding Erdal’s arrest and the conditions of his detention by the time of publication.

Open letter from JS Suisse/JUSO Schweiz to The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs


October 6, 2020

Le 25 septembre 2020, le gouvernement turc a arrêté 82 militant•e•s, personnalités politiques et universitaires. Parmi elles se trouve Cihan Erdal. Cihan est un candidat doctorant de 32 ans à l’université Carleton au Canada, qui s’est rendu en Turquie pour des recherches sur le terrain dans le cadre de sa thèse sur les mouvements de jeunesse en Europe, tout en rendant visite à sa famille. Cihan est un militant LGBTQIA+ et a fait partie de la jeunesse du troisième plus grand parti de Turquie, le HDP (Parti démocratique des peuples).

Selon son avocat, l’arrestation est liée à une publication de son parti sur les réseaux sociaux. Elle y appelait à participer à des manifestations en octobre 2014, après une réunion du comité directeur le 6 octobre 2014. Cihan, bien qu’il ait fait partie du comité à l’époque, n’avait pas connaissance de ces tweets. C’est une justification totalement inadéquate pour une telle arrestation, qui fait également la lumière sur les 81 autres arrestations. Derrière les piètres justifications du gouvernement turc, nous pouvons clairement voir là une ingérence à motivation despotique dans la liberté du peuple turc.

La résistance à ces arrestations arbitraires se forme maintenant à l’échelle mondiale. Dans le cas de Cihan Erdal, en particulier, une lettre ouverte et un appel à l’action ont été lancés pour demander sa libération. Vous trouverez ici la lettre ouverte avec des signataires connu•e•s et voici un aperçu de l’appel international à sa libération.

Nous, soussigné•e•s, vous invitons à prendre vos responsabilités au sein de la politique sociale internationale. Veuillez contacter le gouvernement turc et négocier la libération et le sauf-conduit de Cihan Erdal et des autres personnes détenues sans raison. Il est inacceptable que des personnes soient privées de leur liberté parce qu’elles expriment légalement et librement leur opinion.

Am 25. September 2020 nahm die türkische Regierung 82 Aktivist:innen, Politiker:innen und Akademiker:innen fest. Unter ihnen befindet sich auch Cihan Erdal. Cihan ist ein 32-jähriger PhD-Kandidat der Carleton University in Kanada, der sich aufgrund von Feldforschung für seine Doktorarbeit über Jugendbewegungen in Europa in der Türkei befand und dabei auch noch seine Familie besuchte.
Cihan ist ein LGBTQIA+-Aktivist und war Teil der Jungpartei der drittgrössten Partei der Türkei, der HDP (People’s Democratic Party).Er engagiert sich auch als Freiwilliger bei der kleinen internationalen Jugendorganisation NOW, die als Verein in der Schweiz organisiert ist.

Die Festnahme steht laut seinem Anwalt im Zusammenhang mit einem Social Media Post seiner Partei. Darin rief sie dazu auf, an Protesten im Oktober 2014 mitzumachen, nach einem Exekutivkomitee Meeting am 6. Oktober 2014. Cihan, obwohl er zu dieser Zeit Teil des Komitees war, hatte keine Kenntnis dieser Tweets.
Dies ist eine absolut unzureichende Begründung für eine solche Festnahme, die auch ein Licht auf die weiteren 81 Festnahmen wirft. Hinter den fadenscheinigen Begründungen der türkischen Regierung lassen sich klar despotisch motiviertes Eingreifen in die Freiheit der türkischen Bevölkerung feststellen.

Global formiert sich nun Widerstand gegen diese willkürlichen Festnahmen. Besonders im Falle Cihan Erdals findet sich ein offener Brief und Call-to-Actions, die um die Freilassung bitte. Hier finden Sie den offenen Brief mit namhaften Unterzeichnenden und hier einen Überblick über den internationalen Aufruf zur Freilassung.

Wir Unterzeichnenden fordern Sie dazu auf Ihre Rolle als Teil der Internationalen Gesellschaft wahrzunehmen. Bitte treten Sie mit der türkischen Regierung in Kontakt und verhandeln Sie über die Freilassung und das sichere Geleit von Cihan Erdal und den weiteren grundlos festgenommenen Menschen. Es ist inakzeptabel, dass Menschen aufgrund ihrer legalen und freien Meinungsäusserung ihrer Freiheit beraubt werden.