Poignant empty chair tribute to imprisoned graduate

It’s more than two months since University of Aberdeen graduate Hanifi Baris was arrested and he is still languishing behind bars in a Turkish prison. But the academic, who completed a PhD dissertation last year before moving to Turkey to work as a lawyer, has not been forgotten by students at his alma mater, writes Kirsten Robertson for The Press and Journal.

On 4 July, Baris was charged with “posting items of criminal content” on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Turkish news outlet Bianet reported that the “content” was a news report about the Kurdistan Regional Government, and confirmed he had been charged with “propagandising for a terrorist organisation”. If found guilty, he faces more than seven years incarcerated.

Baris had been scheduled to return to Aberdeeen last week as a keynote speaker in a conference at the university’s Centre for Citizenship, Civic Society and Rule of Law. But at Monday’s event, students left an empty chair in his place and his close friend, Eve Hayes de Kalaf, described the situation as “extremely upsetting”. An online petition urging his release has now reached nearly 5,000 signatures.
Full report on The Press and Journal site