Middle East Studies Association (MESA) awarded its Academic Freedom Award on Thursday evening, November 17, 2016, at an awards ceremony held during its 50th annual meeting in Boston, MA. Dr. Azat Gundogan (Cornell University, Mario Einaudi Center) and Dr. Nilay Ozok-Gundogan (Binghamton University, History Department) accepted the award on behalf of more than 2,000 Peace Petition signatories stating, "This award bears witness to the resilience of Turkish academics in the face of the dramatic erosion of human rights and academic freedom in the country. We appreciate this statement of international solidarity with all Turkish academics in these dark times.”
MESA, through its Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF), said it stood in solidarity with all petition signatories and cited in particular their struggle to preserve academic freedom in Turkey through their research, writing, and advocacy.
Laurie Brand, Chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom, on presenting the award, stated: "Assaults upon academic freedom have increased markedly in the MENA region in 2016, but the deterioration of conditions in Turkey has been unprecedented in its nature and scope. As a result, CAF felt it most appropriate to make an award that would honor a large number of courageous academics. The signatories of the Petition embody both the courage and the resistance of the broader Turkish academic community as it struggles against state harassment and repression."