Feb 23 2018

Peace petitioners found guilty of terrorist propaganda

Three Turkish academics from Istanbul University have become the first to be convicted of 148 academics on trial for signing a petition that criticised the Turkish armed forces’ campaign against Kurdish militants in the country’s southeast, U.S. News reports.

The three academics are among the over 2000 Turkish and foreign academics who delivered their signature to the Turkish parliament in January 2016 on a petition entitled “We will not be a party to this crime.”

They have each received suspended jail sentences of 15 months for “using the media to spread terrorist propaganda,” according to the U.S. News piece.

Their lawyers stated that they would not launch an appeal, due to a lack of trust in the Turkish judicial system.

The petition criticised the heavy-handed tactics employed by the Turkish army in predominantly Kurdish cities in the country, including long curfews and the use of heavy weaponry. Shortly after the petition was delivered, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched scathing criticism against the Academics for Peace, as the signatories called themselves.

This signalled the beginning of a long and difficult period for the academics, during which, besides the 148 facing legal repercussions, many others report discrimination and harassment, including the loss of their academic positions, for signing the petition.

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