Turkish ‘peace petition’ academics to be tried in April

Turkish ‘peace petition’ academics to be tried in April

Turkish ‘peace petition’ academics to be tried in April

A court has adjourned for four months the trial of 10 academics who signed a letter to the Turkish government last year calling for peace.

The academics, who appeared before court on Dec. 5, are the first group from 148 who are being prosecuted for signing the open letter. They are accused of “insulting the government” and “carrying out propaganda” for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

A total of 1,128 academics signed the January 2016 letter titled “We will not be a party to this crime!”

The petition called for an end to violence in the east and southeast of Turkey, which had escalated after the 2015 collapse of a ceasefire and peace process between the state and militants.

Defense lawyer Arın Gül Yeniaras said at court that the indictment is “a pool that includes everything.”

“The petition includes a peace call to the state. The prosecutor thinks the incidents that are the subject of the petition are just imaginary,” Yeniaras said.

“But speaking of mistakes and saying they amount to rights violations is not a crime,” she added.

“It is obvious from a legal standpoint that there is no crime here, but politically [the authorities] want to turn it into something else,” Yeniaras also said.

The hearing against six academics from Galatasaray University and four from Istanbul University was adjourned to April 12 after the court rejected the lawyers’ submission that the letter was simply “criticism of the government,” not an “insult.”

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