An İstanbul high criminal court on Thursday handed down suspended sentences of one year, three months to three Turkish academics on terrorism charges resulting from signing a 2016 peace petition calling for an end to state violence against Turkey’s Kurds, Bianet reported.
Academics Biriz Berksoy, İnci Özkan Kerestecioğlu and Canay Şahin were found quilty of spreading terrorist propaganda by the İstanbul 36th High Criminal Court. The sentence for each academic was suspended, and the ruling will be appealed in a higher court.
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.