Turkish court sentences two academics for peace petition

A Turkish court sentenced two academics to 15 months in prison on charges of making terrorist propaganda for signing a petition calling for a peaceful end to Turkey’s three-decades-old conflict with Kurdish rebels, news website Bianet said.

Professor Zübeyde Füsun Üstel of Galatasaray University and Associate Professor Veli Polat of Istanbul University were among 1,128 academics who signed a petition in 2016 calling on the Turkish government to cease violence and comply with international law during military operations in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country.

Shortly after the petition was delivered, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a scathing tirade against the Academics for Peace, as the signatories called themselves.

So far, 180 of the academics are on trial and 500 of them have lost their jobs as a result of decrees issued under ongoing state of emergency powers introduced after the 2016 coup attempt.

Five academics have so far have been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Polat had his sentence suspended by giving up his right of appeal and Üstel is still free pending her appeal.