Academic for Peace Lütfiye Bozdağ Acquitted

Yazar / Referans: 
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet

Put on trial for having signed the declaration “We will not be party to this crime,” academic Lütfiye Bozdağ has been acquitted in the retrial that started after the Constitutional Court concluded that the freedom of expression of Peace Academics was violated.

As the Constitutional Court gave a ruling of retrial for Academics for Peace, who were put on trial for having signed the declaration "We will not be a party to this crime", Asst. Prof. Lütfiye Bozdağ stood trial at the İstanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court today (June 18).

The court previously sentenced Bozdağ to 1 year, 6 months in prison.

However, the Constitutional Court has concluded that the freedom of expression of Peace Academics was violated by their prosecution and penalization. Accordingly, in line with this Constitutional Court ruling, the local court has ruled that Lütfiye Bozdağ shall be acquitted.

Today's hearing was attended by Bozdağ herself as well as her attorney Meriç Eyüboğlu and other academics.

Court Board: Presiding Judge: Akın Gürlek - Members: Ferhat Gülbağça, Erol Güngör - Prosecutor: Alaattin Çolak

What happened?

After the Constitutional Court gave a ruling of "right violation" for Academics for Peace, the court of appeals reversed the prison sentences given for the academics and the case files were sent back to the local courts for retrial. Afterwards, almost all of the local courts have started holding hearings on case files and giving verdicts of acquittal.

However, the İstanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court has set new dates of hearings for Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Prof. Gençay Gürsoy and Asst. Prof. Lütfiye Bozdağ, who were sentenced to more than 15 months in prison.

The court gave the three academics the following prison terms:

Şebnem Korur Fincancı was sentenced to 2 years, 6 months in prison without any reductions or deferment. The court board first ruled that Korur Fincancı should be sentenced to 1 year and 8 months in prison. But then it ruled that her prison sentence should be increased by half "on the ground that the declaration in question was declared to the public via press" and she should be sentenced to 1 year and 18 months in prison. The court board also ruled that the announcement of the verdict should not be suspended and her sentence should not be deferred "on the ground that there existed no legal opportunity." Referring to "her negative attitude and behavior during the hearing" and "no remorse expressed by her regarding the committal of the offense", the court board did not reduce her sentence, either.

Gençay Gürsoy was sentenced to 2 years, 3 months for "propagandizing for an armed terrorist organization." The court board did not reduce the prison sentence of Gürsoy "considering his negative attitude and behavior in the hearing and the conviction that he does not feel any remorse."

Having not accepted the deferment of the announcement of the verdict, academic Lütfiye Bozdağ was sentenced to 1 year, 6 months in prison. The court board did not reduce her prison sentence on the ground that "she did not show remorse." The board also did not defer the announcement of the verdict on the ground that "there had formed no conviction that the defendant will abstain from committing offense."

About Lütfiye Bozdağ

Asst. Prof. Lütfiye Bozdağ is a faculty member from the Department of Plastic Arts İstanbul Kemerburgaz University Faculty of Fine Arts and Design. She works in interdisciplinary fields such as art, theory, philosophy of art and art criticism. She is a signatory to the peace declaration.

Since 1997, she has been penning articles on arts in various magazines on arts and culture in Turkey. She is a member of the Philosophical Association (Felsefeciler Derneği) İstanbul Branch, University Faculty Members Association (ÜNİVDER) and AICA Supervisory Board.

While she was a representative for the Education and Science Laborers' Union (Eğitim-Sen) in 2007-2009, she was dismissed from university for three times and she was reinstated each time with a court ruling.

About the Trials of Academics

On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled "We will not be party to this crime" on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative.

With the participation of further academics, the number of academics who have signed the declaration has reached 2,212.

With the indictment issued by the Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt, lawsuits were filed against the academics on charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" as per the Article No. 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.

As of October 30, 2019, 806 academics had stood trial since December 5, 2017, all the 204 academics whose cases were concluded were sentenced to prison. 146 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison; 8 academics to 1 year and 6 months in prison; 18 academics to 1 year, 10 months and 15 days in prison; 17 academics to 2 years and 3 months in prison; 7 academics to 2 years and 6 months in prison; 5 academics to 2 years and 1 month in prison; and one academic to 3 years in prison.

Non-deferred prison sentences for 36 people

Of these 204 people, the verdicts of conviction of 36 academics in total were not deferred; while the verdicts of 29 people were not deferred as their prison terms are over 2 years (as per the Article 286 of the Law on Criminal Courts), the verdicts of 7 academics were not deferred as they did not accept the deferment of the announcement of their verdicts.

With her 15-month prison sentence upheld by the court of appeal, Academic for Peace Prof. Dr. Füsun Üstel was arrested on May 8, 2019 to be released on July 22.

Constitutional Court said "violation of right"

The General Assembly of the Constitutional Court examined the individual applications of 10 Academics for Peace sentenced to prison on charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" for having signed the peace declaration.

On July 26, 2019, the Court ruled that the penalization of Academics for Peace on charge of "terror propaganda" has violated their freedom of expression.

The Court decided that a copy of this judgement shall be sent to all local courts in order to eliminate this right's violation and advised for retrial. The court also ruled to pay each applicant 9 thousand TRY in reparations.


After the new judicial year opened on September 2, the first verdict of acquittal for an Academic for Peace in accordance with the Constitutional Court ruling was given by the İstanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court on September 6. Since then, 27 courts have given verdicts of acquittal for Academics for Peace.

Constitutional Court ruling and its consequences

The ruling of the Constitutional Court stipulates that the local courts shall hold re-trials and give verdicts of acquittal in ongoing cases and for finalized sentences and the courts of appeal shall reverse the judgements in question.

The State of Emergency Commission, which has not yet given its decision regarding the applications of discharged academics, shall also take the Constitutional Court ruling into account. However, it can still give contrary rulings.

In the event that the Commission gives a decision against the academics, they will have the right to appeal to the Council of State. Though the Constitutional Court ruling is binding for the Council of State, any possible failure to withdraw the decisions of discharge will also be examined by the Constitutional Court.

You can reach all news on Trials of Academics here

You can reach the statements of Academics for Peace in English here