Three academics have been jailed for signing a petition asking to resume negotiations with the Kurdish population. Human Rights Watch: “Yet another attack on freedom of speech in Turkey”.
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.
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.
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