A petition calling for the release of Cihan Erdal – a 32-year-old PhD student who was detained in Turkey during Kobanî operations on 25 September – has been signed by 2,500 academics worldwide.
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 the Canadian Union of Public Employees. He is a permanent resident of Canada and travelled to Turkey to conduct fieldwork for his PhD thesis. He was a former People’s Democratic Party (HDP) executive committee member and was arrested along with other HDP politicians during the recent operations that have been conducted against HDP politicians.
“The charges against Erdal appear to be based on HDP social media posts calling on people to join peaceful protests”, stated officials from Carleton University where Erdal is completing his doctorate. Carleton University also called for international support to secure his release. The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University issued a statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms the detention of Carleton Sociology doctoral candidate, Cihan Erdal, in Turkey”.
“We academics and researchers around the world defend Cihan Erdal and demand that the Turkish government free Cihan and that the Canadian government supports his release. We kindly request that university and academic institutions worldwide support Cihan Erdal, so that he may continue his research in freedom”, stated the academic signatories calling for Erdal’s release. Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Étienne Balibar, Wendy Brown, Toni Negri and Enzo Traverso signed the petition (with the #freecihanerdal hashtag) in his support.
Detention warrants were issued by Ankara’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for a total of 82 people in seven provinces in Turkey. Police detained dozens of People’s Democratic Party (HDP) members, including Kars Co-Mayor Ayhan Bilgen, over the 2014 Kobanî protests against the siege by ISIS of Kobanî.