‘Academics for Peace’ signatories accused of ‘terrorist propaganda’

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Signatories of a peace declaration titled “We Will Not Be a Party to This [Turkish state’s] Crime” of January 2016 are facing accusations of terrorist propaganda, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.

An indictment filed by prosecutor İsmet Bozkur of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses the academics for peace of “terrorist propaganda” and seeks a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence for signatories of the declaration. The accused academics are from various universities in İstanbul including İstanbul University, Galatasaray, Boğaziçi, Mimar Sinan, Nişantaşı and Yeni Yüzyıl, the Bianet news website reported on Thursday.

Academics for peace demanded that the Turkish government put an end to blockades and curfews in Kurdish towns, avoid targeting civilians in the conflict with the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), reinstate necessary conditions for a cease-fire with the militants and ultimately secure an atmosphere for a sustainable peace between the Kurds and the Turkish state.

Published in early 2016, the peace declaration accuses the Turkish government of carrying out heavy-handed operations in Turkey’s southeastern region, where outlawed PKK militants and the military have been engaged in clashes since the breakdown of a cease-fire between the two in July 2015.

It was signed by more than 2,000 intellectuals from both inside and outside Turkey, including US philosopher Noam Chomsky.

The peace declaration frustrated President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, leading to retribution against the academics. Some of the insults Erdoğan used against them included “so-called intellectuals,” “a flock called intellectuals,” “traitors” and “rough copies of intellectuals.”

Hundreds of academics who signed the declaration were detained when police raided their homes and offices across Turkey after the declaration was announced on Jan. 11, 2016, while hundreds of them were removed from their jobs.

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