A foreign academic briefly detained in Turkey tells his story

When his university accused him of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization, Clyde Forsberg, an American citizen teaching in Turkey, posted on Facebook that he suspected his real crime was “aiding and abetting poetry.”

He’d been recording in verse the changed reality around him as colleagues caught in the purges that have swept Turkey since a July 15 coup attempt found themselves under investigation. One of Forsberg’s poems, posted on his Facebook page July 26, ends with his own imagined inquisition. Told by an interlocutor, a colleague, that his American citizenship would protect him, that “They will not come for you hocam (teacher),” the speaker in the poem responds boldly, if brashly:

Then, let them come for me.
Let them prepare a new brown envelope with my name on it
Let them replace the lock on my office door
Let them call their kangaroo court to order

Forsberg received notice that he’d been suspended by his university a week later, on Aug. 2. He was arrested on Aug. 13, detained for four days, and dismissed from Karabük University upon his release. The dismissal notice cites his earlier suspension for “abetting and aiding, FETÖ/PYD armed terror organization,” FETÖ being the acronym for what Turkey’s government has deemed the Fethullah Terrorist Organization, which it blames for the failed coup. PYD is an acronym for a Kurdish political party in Syria considered by Turkey to be a terrorist …