• The Gaudie

Aberdeen Alumnus Indicted in Istanbul

Updated: Mar 11

University “aware of situation,” as Dr. Hanifi Barış kept in solitary confinement awaiting first hearing scheduled 18th September.


By Matthew Keracher


Photo courtesy of The Gaudie.


Ten weeks after his arrest in Istanbul, the University of Aberdeen have yet to condemn the imprisonment of of recent PhD graduate, Dr. Hanifi Barış.


In a statement to The Gaudie, a University spokesperson said: “We are aware of the situation regarding Aberdeen graduate Hanifi Barış and have been in close contact with his friends and former colleagues within the University. We have offered support to those at the University affected by this incident and await further news in due course.”


Dr. Hanifi Barış, a recent PhD graduate of the University of Aberdeen, returned to Turkey and was arrested in Istanbul on the 4th July.


Barış is charged with "posting items of criminal content” on his Facebook and Twitter accounts and could be facing up to seven and a half years in prison.


Barış was expected to return to the University as a keynote speaker this month, at a conference of the Centre for Citizenship, Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL) on Radical Democratic Citizenship, headed by Dr. Trevor Stack. Stack told the Press & Journal Monday, that he was “very concerned” about Baris’s situation.


He said: “Hanifi Baris completed a PhD this year at the University of Aberdeen and held a funded studentship at the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law, which I direct.


“Hanifi was invited back to the Centre as a keynote speaker in a conference held this week on Radical Democracy. We deeply regret he was unable to participate because he was arrested in July and is being

held in prison in his home country Turkey for a post that he made on Facebook.


“We are very concerned about Hanifi’s plight, as a former PhD student, as an academic and lawyer, and as a personal friend of many of us. His trial is scheduled for 18th September.


“We support the call of organizations like Front Line Defenders and Academics for Peace for the Turkish judiciary to uphold Hanifi’s basic human rights to a free trial and to freedom of speech.”

Frontline Defenders, a Dublin based organisation who protect human rights defenders at risk, reported on the 27th July that Istanbul’s 29th High Criminal Court have accepted the indictment against Dr. Barış. According to the article, “The Court based its decision on an assessment of digital materials supposedly confiscated during an alleged search of his residence and belongings, however, no such search ever took place.


The human rights defender drew public attention for representing a famous conscientious objector who was sentenced to prison. He also defended his client's right to represent himself in Kurdish, which was refused by the court. Hanifi Barış was practising law as a private attorney in Turkey prior to his arrest.”

Turkish news outlet Bianet reported on the 10th July that the “content” in question was a news report about the Kurdistan Regional Government, and that Barış’ has been charged with "propagandizing for a terrorist organization".


An online petition demanding his immediate release has now collated over 4,500 signatures, including notable names such as Étienne Balibar and Judith Butler. Both Balibar and Butler were fellow signees, with Barış, in a declaration prepared by Academics for Peace entitled “We will not be party to this crime,” which was critical of the Turkish State’s recent political violence, in which they “demand the state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region.”


Dr. Barış signed the declaration whilst completing his PhD thesis at the University of Aberdeen. Updates as the story develops can be found by following the hashtags #FreeHanifi and #HanifiyeÖzgürlük.