A petition started on Change.org has called on Turkey’s Constitutional Court (AYM) to take action and drop charges against academics who signed a joint peace declaration in 2016, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Tuesday.
On January 11, 2016, a total of 1,128 staff from 90 Turkish universities, called the Academics for Peace, signed the declaration that called for the end of violence in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern provinces.
Entitled “We will not be a party to this crime,” over the heavy clashes between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in early 2016, which destroyed residential areas, was later on signed by at least 1,000 more academics.
PKK, an armed group that has been fighting for self-rule in the predominantly Kurdish region southeast of Turkey since the 1980s, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey.
The peace declaration also received international support and was signed by
1,800 academics across the world, including Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler,
Etienne Balibar and David Harvey.
Launched by the Initiative for Freedom of Expression and Ankara Freedom of Thought Initiative on July 18, the petition has received more than 5,000
signatures since then.
The petition entitled: “Drop the charges against the academics and their
supporters, let freedom of expression prevail,” urges AYM to examine
applications of academics and announce its rulings on them immediately.
“As of July 17th, 2019, 784 academics have been put on trial in 58 separate
courts. Two hundred and five of the trials have been concluded. All have been sentenced for ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organization’ or ‘degrading the state of the Republic of Turkey,” the initiatives indicated in the petition.
“We call the Constitutional Court to action, to take the necessary steps for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms; and to end the processes that violate freedom of expression,” they concluded.
Professor Zubeyde Fusun Ustel, who became the first academic jailed due to the declaration in May, was released on Monday.
The execution of her 15-month prison sentence has been suspended by a court prior to an AYM meeting to review 10 academics’ appeals, including that of Ustel, scheduled for July 26.
Hundreds of academics who signed the declaration have been dismissed from their jobs with some subjected to travel bans and their passports revoked during a two-year emergency rule that followed a failed military coup attempt on July 2016.