Turkey’s top court says clearing signatories of terror charges does not indicate agreement with peace petition

Turkey’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday said that its ruling on Friday that the convictions of academics on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”, because they signed a peace petition in 2016, violated their right to freedom of expression, did not mean that the court supported the views expressed in the petition.

“The statement that the petition must benefit from the 26th Article of the Constitution on freedom of expression does not mean that the Constitutional Court shares or supports the views expressed in the petition,’’ the court said in an official statement released on its website.

The court’s statement follows strong criticism from government supporters and pro-government news outlets for what they called awarding the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) by exonerating the signatories of the petition.

Over 700 of a total of 2,212 academics who signed the petition, that was launched in January of 2016 calling for a restart to peace negotiations with the PKK and the government, were charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

The PKK is an armed group that has been at war for autonomy in Turkey for over three decades.

Several of the academics have been convicted and sentenced to up to three years in jail. Hundreds of the signatories of the peace petition have been dismissed or forced to resign from their jobs at both public and private universities in Turkey.

The court was aware of some exaggerated statements in the petition, as well as wording that was ‘’insulting and aggressive’’ against Turkish security forces, it said.

“When evaluating whether a statement or expression remains within the scope of freedom of expression, whether said statements are true of disturbing does not play a determinative role,’’ the court added.