Notorious criminal threatens academics calling for peace in Turkey’s southeast
A notorious convicted criminal has publicly issued death threats against academics and intellectuals who called on the Turkish government to end security operations in Southeast Anatolia, just a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan labeled more than 1,000 national and international academics as “poor excuses for intellectuals.”
“We will let your blood in streams and we will take a shower in your blood,” Sedat Peker, a well-known convicted criminal, said in a message posted to his personal website on Jan. 13. The message was titled as “The So-Called Intellectuals, The Bells Will Toll for You First.”
“If you ask my opinion, you should not try to sink this STATE for your own health. The only reason that you are alive at the moment is the presence of the STATE and its survival. As I said in the aforementioned remarks, if the terrorists, you who are their supporters and foreign countries’ intelligence services – in sum, all of you – accomplish your goals and turn this STATE into a nonfunctioning situation, you should well know that you will never be shown mercy by THE CHILDREN of this HOMELAND,” Peker said.
Both the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is focused on the Kurdish issue, urged prosecutors to take legal action against the former criminal.
“Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental fields in a democracy. Opinions which do not call for violence and do not encourage terror can be expressed,” CHP spokesperson Haluk Koç said. “Some third-class godfathers are casting a duty for themselves and jumping on this. Threats are around,” he said.
Recalling that Article 106 of the Turkish Penal Code (TSK), which covers death threats, is “very open,” Koç said prosecutors should act against Peker on their own volition.
“If they will not do so, I’m making an open call here. I want public prosecutors to act against third-class godfathers,” he added.
HDP co-spokesperson Ertuğrul Kürkçü issued even stronger words.
“If the public prosecutors do not act by considering these remarks [by Peker] as evidence of an organization of mass killing, then it means that killing of the opposition is under the state’s protection. The impunity of this murderer will prove that the mafia has become an organic component of the ‘New State,’” Kürkçü said.
Some 1,128 academics from 89 different universities – including foreign scholars like Noam Chomsky, David Harvey and Immanuel Wallerstein – signed the declaration titled “We won’t be a part of this crime,” which called on Ankara to end the “massacre and slaughter.”
Erdoğan, in an address to Turkish ambassadors gathered for an annual conference on Jan. 12, lashed out at the signatories and said human rights violations in the southeast were being committed by “terrorists,” referring to militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but not by the state.
Speaking to reporters on Jan. 13, before Peker’s message was released, HDP’s co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said those academics and intellectuals are the “conscience of the country.”
“There is not a single societal segment that has not been insulted and belittled by President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan],” Demirtaş said. “You know that since he is one of the distinguished academics of our country, he has a lot of honorary doctorate degrees … I wonder what his university life was like; nobody knows about it,” he said, mocking Erdoğan.
“Asking for peace in this country and saying no to bloodshed was the main slogan of the ‘resolution process’ for which he said he would do anything, including ‘drinking hemlock’ until a year ago,” he said, referring to Erdoğan’s earlier remarks that “he would do anything to resolve the [Kurdish] issue,” including drinking poison.
In October 2015, Peker held a “rally against terror,” campaigning in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Rize in the run-up to the Nov. 1 snap elections. At the rally, Peker said “blood will flow greatly” if the security forces “tire” in the fight against terrorism, saying he would lead the crowds at that point. An official investigation into the rally was launched upon the CHP’s reaction at the time.
In June 2015, when he attended the wedding of an infamous pro-government social media “troll,” Erdoğan was photographed while chatting with Peker, who has repeatedly been accused by Turkish law enforcement officials of being the leader of an organized criminal gang.