The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University is providing an update on the situation of our PhD student in Sociology, Mr. Cihan Erdal.

Cihan’s lawyers were finally able to see details of the case that led to him being criminally charged on October 2nd. When the decision was made at 3am local time on October 2nd to charge Cihan and others, they were without legal counsel as police had physically blocked the defendants’ lawyers from access to the court. His lawyers have since discovered that Cihan is NOT accused of being a signatory of an October 2014 letter written by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), of which he was an executive member at the time representing LGBTQ, youth, students, and ecologists. Instead the ongoing criminal investigation consists of the HDP party’s postings on Twitter, following an Executive Committee meeting on 6 October 2014, urging people to join the October 2014 demonstrations in Turkey that were demanding the government assist the Kurdish town of Kobane under deadly attack by ISIS.

Cihan was a member of the Executive Committee of HDP, but he did not attend the meeting on October 6, 2014 and he neither saw nor approved of these Tweets. In other words, if the case depends on these Tweets as evidence of “attempting to destroy the unity of the state” and “spreading terrorist propaganda, inciting and praising criminal activity, and inciting murder,” then Cihan should be released as he was not directly involved in either the meeting that led to these Tweets or in formulating these Tweets.

We strongly call for the immediate and unconditional release of Cihan Erdal. We also urge others to join in this call by contacting your MP and the Turkish Embassy calling for action to support Cihan’s release.

For further information, please refer to the recent Human Rights Watch statement about these charges and a website dedicated to Freeing Cihan Erdal.