Turkey arrests 3 academics for advocating peace with the PKK

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”.

In the latest attack on freedom of expression in Turkey, three academics who signed a peace petition in January 2016 have been detained by a court of Istanbul, being charged with making terrorist propaganda. The 3 were arrested on 15 March 2016, pending the completion of a criminal investigation. Security forces requested imprisonment up to 7-and-a-half-years. The hearing will be held on 22 April.

 

Residents Return To Turkish Town Of Cizre After Curfew - (Photo by Cagdas Erdogan/Getty Images)
Turkish citizens of Cizre, where a curfew is in force (Cagdas Erdogan/Getty Images)

 

Meanwhile, 30 academics were fired and 27 other suspended by their universities. Istanbul’s prosecutor, Irfan Piantine, holds them responsible of terrorist crimes and is carrying out a criminal investigation into all those who signed the petition.

 

1,128 academics from 89 different universities signed the petition named We will not be a Party to this Crime. Published in a press released in Istanbul on 11 January, the petition encourages to resume peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), affirming that “The Turkish state has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighborhoods in the Kurdish provinces to hunger through its use of curfews that have been ongoing for weeks. It has attacked these settlements with heavy weapons and equipment that would only be mobilized in wartime. As a result, the right to life, liberty, and security, and in particular the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment protected by the constitution and international conventions have been violated”.

 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan - (Photo by Gokhan Tan/Getty Images)
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan (Gokhan Tan/Getty Images)

 

“President Erdogan’s vicious campaign against the academics is part of his drive to banish, punish, and silence all critical voices in Turkey,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Turkey’s universities, prosecutors, and courts should respect and protect free speech and the rule of law by immediately dropping all investigations and punitive measures against all those who signed the declaration.”

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