Turkish prosecutor demands 7.5 years for 32 academics who signed peace petition

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A protester holds a placard reading "Academy will not bow to government", on December 5, 2017 in front of Istanbul's courthouse, during a demonstration in support of a group of academics charged with terror offences for signing a petition almost two years ago calling for peace in the Kurdish-dominated southeast. - Over 1,120 Turkish and also foreign academics initially signed the petition which denounced the actions of Turkey's military in the southeast where deadly clashes had erupted with outlawed Kurdish militants in 2015. The first 10 academics charged -- from Istanbul University and Galatasaray University -- went on trial on December 5, 2017. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)

Thirty-two Turkish academics who signed a peace petition appeared in criminal court on Friday, where the prosecutor demanded that the court sentence them to up to seven-and-a-half years in prison, Turkish news site Bianet reported.

In January 2016, 1,128 Turkish academics calling themselves “Academics for Peace” signed a petition titled “We will not be party to this crime” during a period of heavy fighting in Turkey’s Southeast between Turkish armed forces and militants affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The number of signatories later exceeded 2,000.

The peace petition demanded a peaceful solution and criticized Turkish security forces for a heavy-handed response that saw citizens confined under long-lasting curfews and areas in predominantly Kurdish cities under bombardment.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the signatories of disseminating propaganda for the PKK. Many of the academics who signed the petition have been removed from their posts at the universities, and 48 had hearings on Friday. Three signatories were handed suspended jail sentences in February.

(Stockholm Center for Freedom [SCF] with Turkish Minute)

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