The ‘1,100 academics’

The ‘1,100 academics’

As you all know, about 1,100 academics signed a declaration severely accusing the state. How would one approach this incident? Here is one example: 

On Jan. 12, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Sibel Yiğitalp and her friends appealed to the governor to collect four bodies that were lying on the street in the Sur district of the Diyarbakır province. They asked for a break in the clashes to collect the bodies. The governor agreed. Yiğitalp and her friends went to the scene with a police escort. PKK terrorists opened fire from houses and prevented the collection of the bodies. Yiğitalp said they were unable to collect the bodies because clashes erupted but none of the HDP members criticizes, even slightly, the PKK; they did not even reproach them. 

The prosecutor’s work to collect evidence on the crime scene to find the killers of late Tahir Elçi were also blocked, each time, by fire opened from PKK members. Was there any slightest reproach from the HDP? No. But they blame the state every day. 

The “1,100 academics” declaration is exactly the same. They have no criticism for the PKK, registered as a “terror organization” in the European Court of Human Rights, the judicial authority of Western democracies and universal law. Not even one word of criticism for the bloody terror acts of the PKK. However, they say the state is conducting an “intentional and planned massacre,” violating “freedom and the right to security” in the region with operations and curfews. 

They do not utter even one word on how the PKK terror violates the “freedom and the right to security” of our citizens in the region. Moreover, they say this: “The massacre the state is conducting against all the regional population, especially the Kurdish people…” 

This agitating declaration that has one eye closed and the other eye looking through a microscope is totally contrary to the objectivism and ethical values that an academic title calls for. This declaration is short of “academic” quality; it is an ordinary political act. 

Ignoring the PKK terror cannot be explained by any human, ethic and academic value. 

Among the signatories of the declaration, there are world famous, influential academics in international press and academia such as Noam Chomsky and Immanuel Wallerstein. One cannot say they have adequate knowledge of the situation in Turkey but I imagine they have signed anyway due to their general “protest” stances.   

Those who issued the declaration wanted to impress certain circles. The government’s statement also should have aimed to convince those circles; it should have been in that language and content. The reaction of the government should have aimed to enlighten international academia with a solemn statement. It should have called on the signatory academics to be objective and ethical. It should have given concise information about the PKK terror referencing ECHR judgments, explaining the organized terror and the legitimate purposes of the operations. 

On the contrary, furious statements, especially the launching of penal proceedings by the Higher Council of Higher Education (YÖK) and certain universities after the president’s speech will be understood as “the authoritarian government wants to silence the academia” or at least they will be introduced as such.

Besides, angry reactions and threats of penalty will not affect the signatories. On the contrary, they will sharpen them. 

An act that would have remained as a “declaration” is now almost sensationalized with angry statements and punitive actions, drawing the attention of the world. 

One of the reasons why Western democracies accept such declarations as “freedom of expression” and move on when they are issued in their own countries is that they want to prevent further sharpening.  

As a result, the act against the wrong should be conducted in the right way.