On Wednesday, two more Turkish academics were sentenced to 15 months in prison on “terror propaganda” charges after signing a peace petition urging the Turkish government to stop the heavy fighting in Turkey’s southeast in 2016, reported Bianet.
Calling themselves “Academics for Peace”, 1,128 Turkish academics, which later exceeded 2,000, signed a petition calling on the Turkish government to “abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region” on January 10, 2016.
Entitled “We will not be party to this crime”, the petition called for an end to state violence in predominantly Kurdish cities where citizens were suffering from long-lasting curfews and bombardments.
In response to the peace call, Erdogan accused “those so-called intellectuals” of treason, delivering Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) propaganda and undermining Turkey’s national security. 27 academics were detained by police over alleged “terror propaganda” due to their signatures on the petition.
Turkish Armed Forces’ initiated a campaign against outlawed PKK in southeastern Kurdish cities using brutal tactics and heavy weaponry.
The US ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, delivered a rare public condemnation of the Turkish government denoting the crackdown as “chilling”.
“In democratic societies, it is imperative that citizens have the opportunity to express their views, even controversial or unpopular ones. Expressions of concern about violence do not equal support for terrorism. Criticism of government does not equal treason,” Bass said in his statement.
Many signatory academics have been sacked from their posts at the universities. Many more were dismissed after a “state of emergency” was announced by the Turkish government following July 15 coup attempt.
Extended seven times, the state of emergency allowed the government to bypass legislative and judicial procedure through issuing decree laws. During the state of emergency, around 8,000 academicians were fired.