Turkish academicians have penned a declaration calling for the release of their colleagues Esra Mungan, Muzaffer Kaya and Kıvanç Ersoy who were recently detained for signing a declaration criticizing curfews declared in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern districts.
The declaration signed by 120 members of Psychology faculties around Turkey call for the release of the three academics were arrested on March 15 on charges of making terrorist propaganda. The declaration said that whether one agrees with the content of the initial declaration everyone must allow for academicians to exercise their right to free speech and free thought.”
In the statement the signed by 25 professors of psychology, 27 associate professors, 37 assistant professors and 29 doctors of psychology underlines that the charges of “making terrorist propaganda” and arrest of the three academics is not acceptable.
Over 1,100 academics from 90 universities issued a declaration titled “We will not be a party to this crime,” on January 11, wherein they called on the government to halt the on-going operations in south-eastern Turkey, restore national peace and return to the negotiating table to restart the shelved talks with Kurds to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue. Mungan, Kaya and Ersoy have been the only ones arrested so far.
The declaration frustrated President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, leading to retribution against some of the academics. Some of the insults Erdoğan used against the academics include: “so-called intellectuals,” “a flock called intellectuals”, “traitors” and “rough copies of intellectuals.”
The operations against the terrorist Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) began after the frail ceasefire set up in 2013, as part of the settlement process was ended on July 22, 2015 when the PKK assassinated two police officers. The PKK said it acted in retaliation for the state failing to prevent a suspected Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant detonating a suicide bomb in Şanlıurfa’s Suruç district and killing 34, injuring over 100.
Those killed in Suruç were preparing to take items such as books to Kobani, a town on the Syrian Turkish border that had been held by ISIL but was later seized by Syrian Kurdish militia.
Nearly 40,000 people have been killed in clashes with the PKK since 1984, when the armed group launched its first attacks. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, the EU and Turkey.