Imprisonment of the innocent: Prof Laçiner

Who is Sedat Laçiner?

Sedat Laçiner is a Turkish professor born in Kirkale, Turkey. He is 49 years old and has been imprisoned since the summer of 2016. Professor Laçiner’s educational path began in Turkey where he graduated high school and completed hisbachelor’s degree in Ankara. He started his master’s degree in Political Science in Turkey butafter receiving a scholarship from the Ministry of National Education, he finished his degree in the United Kingdom. Upon completing his master’s degree in 2001, he obtained his Ph.D. at King’s College University of London. In 1994 Sedat Laçiner was appointed as the Prime Minister’s correspondent and has, to date, written multiple articles. He was a member of the Higher Education Council (YÖK), the National Committee of Turkish-Armenian Relations (TEİmK), and was appointed as the director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University in 2003. From 2004 to 2010 he presidedthe International Institute for Strategic Studies (USAK). On March 15, 2011, Laçiner was appointed rector of Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University (ÇOMU) at the age of 38, which made him the youngest rector in Turkey. In 2006 he was awarded the prize “2006 Young Global Leader” and is still the first and only person in Turkey to be nominated for a title in the field “intellectuals”. Professor Laçiner is the author of 26 books in both Turkish and English.

Turkey’s coup attempt

The president of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, has a controversial style of leadership. It is a dubious form of democracy. Upon undertaking the presidency, Erdogan took over the media, dropped the charges of the previously convicted governmental ministers and their families, and has been involved in a huge corruption scandal. In 2014, he charged Fetullah Gulen with organizing a “parallel state structure” which was an act of competitor elimination. His actions have resulted in widespread disapproval and urge for change. In 2016, the inevitable happened – a coup d’état took place. Via a broadcaster, a faction of the army announced that “it had seized power to protect democracy from Recep Erdogan”. Despite its failure and rapid disappearance, sources suggest there were over 1,400 wounded and some dead in the process. The 7,000 people arrested included high-ranking soldiers, judges, and teachers, amongst others. According to various sources, the coup did not succeed because it did not have the needed support from civil citizens, who needed to push the “change”. When Erdogan took control over the situation, he blamed the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen immediately. The coup is also majorly viewed as an excuse for Turkey’s current president to consolidate his power. Today over 20,000 people remain imprisoned.

Why is Sedat Laçiner in prison?

In 2018, Sedat Laçiner was sentenced to 9 years and 4 months in jail. During the process, some prosecutors wanted life imprisonment and discussions on re-establishing the death penalty arose. In one of Laçiner’s letters to his family, the former rector states: “After eight months there is still no single legal evidence for the accusation, namely attempting to remove the Erdogan government. The indictment even accepts that I have no violent or forceful action, behaviour, or activity.” He also states that he had no access to a lawyer and his file was kept away from him, which amounts to a violation of his right to a fair trial and as such, one of his fundamental human rights. The former rector was accused of being part of the “Gülen” movement and was kept in custody without sufficient evidence proving his liability.

According to Laçiner’s family, he has been charged with terrorism offenses in connection with FETÖ – the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation, which is the term the Turkish government uses to refer to the Gülen movement. FETÖcomprises of followers of the moderate Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen and his brother, Vedat, who also an academic, but has been given no details of what they are supposed to have done to warrant being charged. Both are being held at the Çanakkale E Type Closed Prison (Malley, 2017).

The accusations include that the Gülen movement was an “armed terroristic act”, but until this day there is no evidence to back these charges. Despite Erdogan’s views, the world is taking a stance in favour of the ones suffering by his iron-fist regime. Unfortunately, there are over 200,000 innocent people arbitrarily detained – a number that illustrates how the presumption of innocence is not the Turkish government’s concern.

Original text by Ivan Evstatiev

Edited by Olga Ruiz Pilato

Sources

Malley, B. M. (2017, April 6). Is imprisoned academic a victim of a mass witchhunt? University World News. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=2016111800050457

TurkeyPurge. (2017, September 25). Turkish professor Sedat Laciner, under pre-trial detention for 26 months, gets 9 years in jail | Turkey Purge. Turkeypurge.Com. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://turkeypurge.com/turkish-professor-sedat-laciner-under-pre-trial-detention-for-26-months-gets-9-years-in-jail

www.sabah.com.tr. (2016, July 23). Eski rektör Sedat Laçiner tutuklandı. Sabah. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.sabah.com.tr/gundem/2016/07/23/eski-rektor-sedat-laciner-tutuklandi

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