Turkey’s Scientists Stripped of Autonomy as Ruling Party Extends Power

3 Apr., 2012, Bianet

While the AKP has certainly become more outspoken about its intent to assert influence over Turkey’s academic institutions, it has been doing so behind the scenes for several years now.

Two years ago, a scientist named Onur Hamzaoğlu began finding arsenic, mercury and lead in the women and children who live in Turkey’s Kocaeli Province, the country’s second biggest industrial zone.

Hamzaoğlu, the head of the public health department at the local university, encountered these heavy metals in infants’ feces and mothers’ breast milk in the course of a three-year research project that began in 2009 and will end later this year.

When he told a journalist about his findings in early 2011, however, Hamzaoğlu triggered a government campaign aimed at discrediting him and his research.

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