Academics under probe get new support from international colleagues

Academics under probe get new support from international colleagues

Academics under probe get new support from international colleagues

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More than 350 international academics have signed a statement to express solidarity with colleagues in Turkey who are facing legal and administrative probes for signing a petition calling for an end to security operations in the southeast.

In a statement issued on Jan. 22, the 351 signatories from various universities in Europe, the United States, Canada and South Africa said they were “appalled by the repression, persecution and prosecution of Turkish scholars for simply expressing their concern about the growing violence within the country.”

“The call of our colleagues in Turkey for their government to respect national and international laws and reopen negotiations with the representatives of Turkey’s Kurdish population (as well as to bring in independent observers to protect the human rights of the citizens of Turkey and investigate military operations in civilian areas) is a message of peace; it is intended to protect human life and property and to prevent the further escalation of a conflict that threatens not only Turkey but the entire region,” read the statement. 

The statement urged the Turkish government to “cease the intimidation, persecution and prosecution of all those who have publicly expressed opposition to the current government’s policies, including the signatories of the petition, reorganize the Council of Higher Education [YÖK], respect the country’s commitment to rule of law, democracy, and human rights,” and “restart the ‘peace process’ with Kurdish representatives.”

The statement was also sent to the President’s Office, the Prime Ministry, the Parliament Speaker’s Office, the Justice Ministry and YÖK.

Prosecutors and universities last week launched a major investigation into more than 1,100 Turkish academics who signed a petition denouncing military operations in the southeast, with at least 18 being detained so far. The European Union and the United States have both denounced the probes in unusually strong statements.

All those detained in the probe have since been released but they still face investigation and an eventual trial, while some academics were removed from their posts or suspended with administrative decisions.

Presidential adviser Yiğit Bulut said in a Facebook post on Jan. 22 that all academics that do not retract their signatures from the petition would be expelled from their position for “the support and distribution of a petition featuring political and ideological goals.”