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Imprisonment of Academics Sparks Public Backlash

In a new round of crackdown, Istanbul police units have detained a number of academics linked with philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been in prison for nearly a year, sparking criticism and condemnation from large segments of society, including leading business organization TUSIAD.

The new wave of arrests took place as part of Istanbul police’s efforts to dismantle Kavala-affiliated NGO Anadolu Kultur. Law Professor Turgut Tarhanli and Professor Betul Tanbay are among the detained.

“It is very sad to begin the day with the news of detention of many academics at a time when we were talking the return of scientists to the country. We owe the productivity of the lands in which we live to our culture that has become a shelter of science for centuries. We cannot progress by denying this!” Erol Bilecik, the head of the Turkish Industry and Business People’s Association (TUSIAD) wrote on Twitter, expressing his dismay.

Kavala, a secular and pro-Western activist, was imprisoned last year. Despite calls from the international community, the Turkish authorities did not allow his release.