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Presidential Blog

Comradeship under civil and political uncertainty

29 March 2017 | by Peter Kinderman

We need to consider carefully what practical steps we may be able to take to help our Turkish colleagues, together with colleagues in EFPA.

It’s been another horrible week. Seven days ago today, a violent and angry man killed four people in Westminster. Like everyone else, I was heartened by the sight of members of the emergency services and healthcare workers running towards – not away from – danger. 

Following the events of last Wednesday, Telmo Mourinho Baptista, President of EFPA, the European Federation of Psychologists Associations, wrote, to convey his colleagues’ feelings of deep consternation at the tragic events, to stand with us in that moment of suffering, to express their solidarity, and to offer help if necessary. 

On behalf of the British Psychological Society, I passed on similar sentiments to the Metropolitan Police via our links with them through the Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Psychology section.

Such sentiments, and offers of practical help are reciprocal. And so it’s important also to note that we have received a request for support from our colleagues in Turkey.

Professor Gonca Soygüt, President of the Turkish Psychological Association, has highlighted the position of academics and professionals – including many psychologists – in Turkey following the imposition of a state of emergency after the attempted coup d’état on 15 July 2016.

Although the government claims that the aim of the state of emergency is the safeguarding of democracy, freedoms, and the rule of law, many civil servants and academics have lost their jobs or seen their universities closed. Our colleagues have called on us to show solidarity with psychologists in Turkey, and to preserve academic freedom.

EFPA (of which the BPS is a key member) have recently expressed solidarity with our Turkish colleagues and held a President's Council Meeting in Istanbul in May 2016.

We need to consider carefully what practical steps we may be able to take to help our Turkish colleagues, together with colleagues in EFPA. For now, however, I’d encourage members to find out more about the situation in Turkey, and to reaffirm our solidarity with colleagues and our support for academic and professional freedom.

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