Cihan Erdal

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Cihan Erdal is a Turkish PhD student at Carleton University in Ottawa who was imprisoned in Turkey between September 2020-June 2021 due to his involvement with the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party.

On 25 September 2020, Erdal was one of dozens of people arrested and accused of links to terrorism, only hours after he arrived in Istanbul to conduct research for his doctorate.[1] [2]

Most of these people had been supportive of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), a pro-Kurdish, leftist political party in Turkey.[3] The HDP has frequently been targeted by the Turkish authorities and its former leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, are currently in jail.[citation needed] Erdal is a Canadian permanent resident, and his arrest was condemned by numerous Canadian organisations, including his university and unions like the UNPGE.[4]

The Department of Sociology at Carelton University condemned Erdal's arrest, saying that "The charges stem from events back in 2014, which the Turkish government are using to continue persecuting members of the leftist HDP political party, the third largest party in Turkey’s parliament".[5]

Erdal was "carrying out research for his doctoral dissertation on youth-led social movements in Europe when anti-terror police burst into his rental flat at 9 a.m. and hauled him away", according to Al Monitor journalist Amberin Zaman.[6] Most of the people arrested on September 25, 2020, had been part of the HDP's executive committee during the siege of Kobani by ISIS in 2014.[citation needed] The Turkish government has accused the HDP of encouraging protests by writing a letter calling on Turkey to assist the Kurds of Kobani.[7]

Erdal is a member of the LGBT community, and there has been concern raised for his treatment by Turkish authorities because of this.[8]


  1. ^ "Cihan Erdal and the Fight for a Democratic Progressive Voice in Turkey". MIR. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  2. ^ "Lawyer urges government to press Turkey on detained Carleton student | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  3. ^ Welle (, Deutsche. "US slams Turkey's plan to ban pro-Kurdish party | DW | 18.03.2021". DW.COM. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  4. ^ "Free Cihan Erdal, NUPGE urges Canadian govt. | National Union of Public and General Employees". Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  5. ^ Raymond, Ted (2020-09-29). "Carleton University denounces detention of Canadian PhD candidate in Turkey". Ottawa. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  6. ^ Zaman, Amberin (2020-10-28). "Turkish academic in Canada caught up in Ankara's anti-Kurdish sweep". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  7. ^ "Cihan Erdal and the Fight for a Democratic Progressive Voice in Turkey". MIR. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  8. ^ "Five Turkish students arrested over LGBTQ-themed work". Retrieved 2021-02-12.