Ayşe Gül Altınay, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Center at Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey, is set to give a keynote at the summer school organized by the Mnemonics network in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in September 2019.
However, she was sentenced to 25 months in prison earlier this week. Professor Altınay is one of over 2200 Academics for Peace who signed a 2016 petition denouncing the violent state-sponsored persecution of Kurdish citizens of Turkey. In her fourth and final judicial hearing, she was charged with and convicted of “knowingly and willingly supporting a terrorist organization as a non-member”.
Mnemonics, an international collaborative initiative for graduate education in the field of memory studies, strongly condemns this injustice and stands in solidarity with Professor Altınay, her more than 600 co-signatories who have been or are still on trial, and all our academic colleagues who are being persecuted for their courage to speak out against violent aggression.
On 21 May 2019, Professor Altınay made the following statement in court:
Every individual, every family living in this geography has suffered from past wars, migrations and experiences of violence. In terms of the cycle of violence that trauma studies alerts us to, we live in a challenging, vulnerable geography.
Yet, what we make of these past experiences of pain is up to us…
Are we going to turn our pain into more violence, hate, pain and injustice, or into steps that multiply life, beauty, love, peace and justice?
This is the main question that shapes my work and my life.
I firmly believe that we all have new steps we can take towards healing the traumas that have been transmitted from one generation to the other, and to break out of the cycles of violence that we are living through.
For more information about this case, see https://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/208694-one-academic-sentenced-to-2-years-1-month-in-prison.