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Security, Surveillance, Gentrification

RC21 demands to drop charges

The influential Research Committee on Urban and Regional Development (RC21) of the International Sociological Association (ISA) sends a letter of support. They strongly protest and petition against the abuse of academic freedom recently committed in Germany against a number of individuals, including Dr. Andrej H. and Dr. Matthias B.


August 23, 2007

Der Generalbundesanwalt beim Bundesgerichtshof
c/o Ermittlungsrichter Hebenstreit
Herrenstraße 45
D-76133 Karlsruhe
Germany

and

Der Generalbundesanwalt beim Bundesgerichtshof
Brauerstraße 30
D-76137 Karlsruhe
Germany

To the Attorney of the German Federal Supreme Court,

We, the Research Committee on Urban and Regional Development (RC 21) of the International Sociological Association, strongly protest and petition against the abuse of academic freedom recently committed in Germany against a number of individuals, including Dr. Andrej H. and Dr. Matthias B., for alleged membership of a terrorist organisation, or supporting such an organisation. Although we welcome the release of Andrej H. from prison on bail on August 22, 2007 we remain concerned that the charges against him and the others have not been dropped and further plans of prosecution persist.

We are the Research Committee 21 of the International Sociological Association, a group of international teachers, academics, researchers and practitioners who work in the field of urban sociology around the world. Our mandate is to promote the development of theory and research in the sociology of urban and regional development and to create an international community among scholars in the field of sociology of urban and regional development.

At our annual Board meeting on August 23, 2007, in Vancouver, Canada, we discussed the situation of Dr. Andrej H. and Dr. Matthias B. as well as other researchers recently accused or under threat of accusation by German authorities.

We expect our members to critically analyse societal relations not only from a safe distance but also from the ground up. This means that certain kind of research demands continuous engagement of the researcher with its research object. We also believe that exemplary social science is not only a theoretical exercise but has a direct and immediate link to practice, for example in the form of broadly accessible publications.

The Board of the RC 21 believes that the German police, and by its extension the German state, mistook the very tools of solid social science research as threatening to society. While one can understand certain misinterpretations at a time such as today, with heightened security measurements around the world, we are appalled by the linking of social scientists to terrorism. We are extremely concerned that the core principles of our profession – namely being critical, and linking theory and practice – is taken out of context and becomes victimized.

It is our understanding that the work of the accused social scientists on gentrification and other critical research has become under suspicion, and that their engagement in and their knowledge of activist organizations has led the German authorities to believe that these individuals are part of a terrorist organization.

We strongly object to these conclusions and urge you to drop immediately the accusation against these individuals. We also demand that the Federal Prosecutor (Bundesanwaltschaft) immediately suspend all the proceedings based on § 129a.


Yours sincerely

Kuniko Fujita (Japan/US), President, RC 21, ISA

Yuri Kasepov (Italy), Vice-President, RC 21, ISA

Fernando Diaz Orueta (Spain), Secretary, RC 21, ISA


Board members:

J. Bodnar (Hungary), T. Butler (UK), B. Da Roit (Italy), D. Davis (USA), J. W. Duyvendak (The Netherlands), K.C. Ho (Singapore), U. Lehrer (Canada), T. Machimura (Japan), T. Maloutas (Greece), E. Marques (Brazil), R. S. Sandhu (India)