Heval Bozay, a teaching assistant at Nevsehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University’s Archeology department until he was dismissed by a government decree issued under post-coup emergency rule last year, is now earning his keep by operating a grocery store.
Graduated from the Istanbul University’s archeology department, Bozay also holds a master degree from the same faculty.
He was working as a teaching assistant at Izmir’s Dokuz Eylul University before the government “transferred” him to the Nevsehir University for signing the controversial 2016 Peace Declaration.
Raised in a family of Kurdish background in the eastern province of Van, Bozay was removed from his job at the Nevsehir University even though he withdrew his signature from the declaration, on Aug 25, 2017.
“We, archeologists, must obtain permission from the Culture Ministry to make excavations. …They told us to withdraw our signatures before diggings. Just to participate in the excavations, I drew back with scientific concerns. Even though I complied with their request and withdrew my signature, I couldn’t get permission,” Bozay told Funda Duru from Bianet online news portal.
Now, Bozay works at a grocery store in Cavusin, a small village 5-km away from the popular tourist destination, Cappadocia.
“I operate this store both as a grocery and a café. I work from 9 am to 11 pm. There are lots people come and go. I treat breakfast menus, sandwiches and meatballs. Earlier, I had troubles like ‘Where to find a particular article?’ Now, I got different problems. Since my store is just next to a dairy shop, lots of flies happen to be around. My biggest problem are the flies! And also, I often had to think how much spices I should put in meatballs.”
Published in early 2016, the peace declaration accuses the Turkish government of carrying out heavy-handed operations in Turkey’s southeastern region, where outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and the military have been engaged in clashes since the breakdown of a cease-fire between the two in July 2015. Academics for peace demanded that the Turkish government put an end to blockades and curfews in Kurdish towns, avoid targeting civilians in the conflict with the militant PKK, reinstate necessary conditions for a cease-fire with the militants and ultimately secure an atmosphere for a sustainable peace between the Kurds and the Turkish state.
Apart from the followers of the Gulen movement, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses of masterminding the July 15, 2016, the government’s post-coup crackdown targeted the academics who signed the peace declaration as well. More than 145,000 people in total have lost their jobs since the summer of 2016. It has become common occurrence that teachers, academics, journalists who were impacted by the crackdown shifted to low-profile positions to earn their livings.