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London to debate "Academic Freedom in Turkey"
The event to take place on Feb. 29 at the House of Commons will host keynote speakers including Ms Gulseren Onanc, Assembly Member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP); Dr Elizabeth Lawrence, President of University and College Union (UCU); Dr Janroj Keles of Middlesex University and Ms Sinem Arslan of University of Essex. The event will be hosted by Keith Vaz Labour MP for Leicester East.

“Over the last month, academic freedom in Turkey has occupied news headlines amidst criticism of increasing restrictions on freedom of speech” read the event’s announcement.

During the debate, detainments of 27 academics over allegations of "terror propaganda" after signing a petition with 1,400 other calling for an end to “Turkey’s deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish people” will be discussed.

Many signees have been facing further attacks from government officials and investigations, said the event holders' statement.

“Despite disagreement with the content of the petition, many from the Turkish opposition and international organisations criticised the government’s response and violation of its obligation to protect freedom of expression under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” it added.

Speaker Biographies

Gulseren Onanc is an Assembly Member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP). She was a Member of the Central Executive Committee, as deputy chairperson of the CHP and assumed the responsibility of managing the Party’s public relations between 2012 and 2013. She played an active role in the establishment of the Commission of Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. In 2009, Onanc received the “World of Difference Award” from the International Alliance of Women (TIAW).

Dr Elizabeth Lawrence is President of University and College Union (UCU). She has served as an National Executive Committee (NEC) member and national negotiator for UCU and one of its predecessor s, NATFHE (National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education). She is employed as a Principal Lecturer in Sociology at Sheffield Hallam University. Her teaching and research activities are in the Sociology of Work and Employment and Equality/Diversity.

Dr Janroj Keles is a research fellow at Middlesex University, working on ethno-national conflicts, migration, diaspora and statelessness. He is the author of the book titled Media, Diaspora and Conflict Nationalism and Identity amongst Turkish and Kurdish Migrants in Europe.

Sinem Arslan is a PHD Candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Department of Government at University of Essex.
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