Turkish court sentences academic Ersanlı to 1 year, 3 months in prison over peace petition

A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced Prof. Dr. Büşra Ersanlı, who was tried for having signed a peace petition titled “We will not be a party to this crime,” to one year, three months in prison.

The court did not suspend Ersanlı’s sentence.

The trials of academics who have been charged with “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” for having signed a petition prepared by the Academics for Peace continued at the İstanbul Çağlayan Courthouse on Tuesday, when Professor Ersanlı from İstanbul’s Marmara University had her third hearing at the 32nd High Criminal Court.

Ersanlı defended herself before the judges, saying, “I repeat my statement. I demand my acquittal,” while her lawyer, Aynur Tuncel Yazgan, emphasized that there were no legal elements in the charges brought against Ersanlı and requested that a judgement of acquittal be rendered.

The court sentenced Prof. Dr. Ersanlı to one year, three months in prison and declined to suspend it since Ersanlı did not ask for a suspension of the penalty and the court stated that she had failed to express any remorse.

Prof. Dr. Ersanlı has the right to appeal the verdict within seven days.

On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration titled “We will not be party to this crime” on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative over Turkish security forces’ operations in the Kurdish-populated regions of Turkey. With the participation of additional academics, the number of signatories reached 2,212.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by denouncing the signatories and said they were equal to terrorists .

A two-and-a-half year ceasefire between the state and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), negotiated by Erdoğan’s government, broke down in July 2015 after his party failed to win a majority in general elections. A repeat election in November the same year, in which security became a major issue, saw Erdoğan’s party secure a majority in parliament. Thousands have been killed in the conflict since then.

With an indictment issued by Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt, criminal cases were filed against the academics on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” as per Article No. 7/2 of Turkish Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.

The trials of academics who signed the petition started on December 5, 2017. According to a report by Bianet, as of June 5, 241 academics had appeared in court. Fourteen of these academics were sentenced to one year, three months in prison. All of the sentences were suspended, except for those of Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University and Prof. Dr. Ersanlı.

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