Appeals court upholds imprisonment of peace petition signatory academic

The İstanbul Regional Appeals Court on Sunday upheld the prison sentence of Professor Zübeyde Füsun Üstel, who signed a peace petition along with 1,128 other academics in 2016 calling on the Turkish government to halt military operations in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of the country, Bianet reported.

The İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court previously handed down a one year, three month sentence to Professor Üstel for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Twenty-seven other cases similar to Üstel’s are pending at regional appeals courts, and according to experts this case will set a precedent for them.

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 security forces and militants affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The number of signatories later exceeded 2,000.

The 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 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

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