Turkey, 12 academics arrested for urging peace with the Kurds

12 academics calling on the government to stop violence against the Kurds have been detained by police forces, showing that Turkey fails to guarantee freedom of speech.

They’re guilty of signing a declaration to denounce and ask to stop the violence perpetrated by the Turkish army against the leaders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – PKK. It’s a declaration urging a peaceful solution to the almost centuries-old conflict in the south-east between Turkey and the PKK, which is considered to be a terrorist organisation by both Ankara’s government and western allies.


For this reason, among over 1,000 academics from all over the world who signed the petition, 12 have been arrested by Turkish police forces on 15 January, according to the news agency Anadolu, cited by Associated Press. It’s a fact that confirms doubts and fears on the country’s real freedom of speech under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Those detained are academics at Kocaeli University, just a few kilometres away from Istanbul, where a blast rocked the Sulthanahmet district.


L'università di Kocaeli sotto la neve, in Turchia. Qui sono stati arrestati 12 professori che volevano la pace con i curdi
Kocaeli University, Turkey. Here 12 academics have been arrested for asking for peace with Kurds


Whilst nine other lecturers face arrest, the academics could be charged with insulting the Turkish state and making “terrorist propaganda” on behalf of the Kurds. PKK has been fighting for Turkish Kurdistan’s independence for over 30 years and for the creation of a unified Kurdistan that includes the regions under the sovereignty of Iraq, Iran, and Syria. A conflict that has caused thousands of victims.


The declaration – also signed by US linguist Noam Chomsky, criticised during Erdogan’s speech following Istanbul’s attack – has been accused of being biased, because it employs terms close to those used by separatists and fails to condemn rebel violence. Thus, it’s an opinion-related crime that shouldn’t exist in any democracy, especially in a country that aims to join the European Union, which boasts the freedom of speech as one of its founding principles.

Translated by

Related articles
Return to Fukushima, 10 years later

Ten years have passed since the 11 March 2011 disaster, but this chapter is far from over. Travelling through Fukushima, renewal and destruction can be seen side by side, sometimes separated only by a road.