Turkish academic receives two year jail sentence for signing peace petition

A Turkish court has sentenced academic Müge Ayan to two years and one month in jail on charges of aiding a terrorist organisation for signing a petition calling for a peaceful end to Turkey’s three-decades-old conflict with Kurdish rebels, independent news site Diken reported on Monday.

A former anthropology professor at İstanbul’s Bilgi Univresity, Ayan is among the 1128 of signatories of a petition which 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, after a two-and-a-half year ceasefire between the state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), negotiated by Erdoğan’s government, broke down in July 2015.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the U.S. and the EU.

The İstanbul court initially sentenced Ayan to five years, however, the sentence was reduced to two years and a month upon consideration of the verdict’s effect on the academic’s future, Diken said.

Hundreds signatories of the peace petition have lost their jobs with no prospect of working again, some have been subject to travel bans and some have had their passports revoked, preventing them from working in Turkey or abroad.