Religious Freedom Center’s Committee on Religious Liberty will host a panel discussion about human rights violations and threats to basic freedoms in Turkey.
In July 2016, the attempted military takeover of the Turkish government resulted in a crackdown on the media and on dissenters of President Erdogan’s regime. Nearly 150,000 government employees — including prosecutors, judges, teachers and doctors — have been dismissed from their jobs with no right to appeal. More than 125,000 citizens have been detained and 60,000 are under arrest. With hundreds of media institutions taken over, shut down or threatened, and the highest number of jailed journalists in the world, independent media in Turkey have been almost decimated.
The panel will speak about the latest developments in Turkey and raise awareness of issues related to the government’s continued assault on individual freedoms.
President, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.
Dr. Lantos Swett is the former chair and vice-chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and teaches human rights and american foreign policy at Tufts University. She currently serves as co-chair of the Board of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and the Budapest-based Tom Lantos Institute. Dr. Lantos Swett also serves on the Advisory Board of UN Watch, the annual Anne Frank Award and Lecture, and The Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership, and Public Policy.
Journalist in exile and former editor-in-chief, Today’s Zaman.
Sevgi Akarçesme holds a master’s degree in international relations from Istanbul Bilgi University and another M.A. in political science from Temple University. Following her graduate studies in Philadelphia, Penn., she joined the Turkey Project at CSIS in Washington, D.C. Upon returning to Turkey, she worked at the Office of the President from 2008 until the end of 2010, where she gained invaluable government experience. After working as an advisor at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Center for Strategic Research from December 2010 to July 2011, she moved to her hometown Istanbul. After working as a correspondent and columnist for the daily Today’s Zaman, she became the newspaper’s last editor-in-chief before it was taken over by the Turkish government in March 2016.
Executive Director, Alliance for Shared Values, New York.
The Alliance for Shared Values is a nonprofit organization that promotes bringing together citizens of diverse backgrounds around shared values of humanity. Prior to his current position, Dr. Aslandogan served as the board president of the Institute of Interfaith Dialog in Houston, Tex., as a contributing editor for the The Fountain magazine, and on the board of scholars and practitioners of the Journal of Interreligious Dialogue. Dr. Aslandogan is the co-editor of “Muslim Citizens of the Globalized World: Contributions of the Gulen Movement,” published by the Institute of Interfaith Dialog. He publishes a column on Huffington Post. Dr. Aslandogan holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
President, Rumi Forum.
Emre Celik is an Australian living in Washington, D.C., and has served as president of the Rumi Forum since 2009. The Rumi Forum is an organization dedicated to intercultural and interfaith dialogue issues covering themes of pluralism, social cohesion, democracy, and peace-building. Emre has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Washington Times and numerous media outlets in Europe and Australia on issues of diversity and dialogue. He regularly speaks at universities and was a participant of a private roundtable at Harvard University that examined issues surrounding Muslim Americans. In October 2014, the Rumi Forum helped organize the first-ever White House Eid reception, at which Emre provided opening remarks. When living in Australia, Emre was on the Melbourne Advisory Committee for the Parliament of World Religions and the Victoria Police Multifaith Council.