Twenty-seven academics have been handed down sentences totaling 57 years, 11 months and five days on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda in signing a declaration in 2016 calling for an end to counterterrorism operations in Turkey’s Kurdish Southeast.
Bianet reported on Friday that in the combined cases of the academics, the Istanbul 33rd High Criminal Court handed down two-year, three-month sentences to 14 academics for not expressing any remorse. The others were given two-year suspended sentences.
In their final defense, the academics reiterated their call for peace and stated that their action was an exercise of freedom of expression.
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.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by 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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)