Jul 19 2018

War protest academic released from prison

Onur Hamzaoğlu, an academic and co-chair of a left-wing pro-minorities political group, has been released at the first hearing of his trial for a press release condemning Turkey’s military action in Afrin, northwest Syria.

The Turkish government enjoyed widespread public backing for its military operation against Syrian-Kurdish militias in Afrin, but nevertheless targeted dissent against the invasion with strong reprisals.

Hamzaoğlu was among a number of dissenting citizens arrested in February, in his case for issuing a press release protesting the invasion. He was accused of "terrorist propaganda" and “provoking the people to hatred and enmity.”

Prosecutors asked for his release in April, but a judge rejected the request, a stressful situation that contributed to his mother’s poor health and eventual death while he was in custody, according to the academic.

“I could not thank her for the last time. After I was taken into custody, she stayed in intensive care for 85 days due to an illness linked to stress. My arrest turned into a much harsher punishment for me,” said Hamzaoğlu.

Prior to his arrest for protesting the Afrin invasion, Hamzaoğlu had been dismissed from Kocaeli University for signing another petition in 2016 protesting against the Turkish military’s campaign against Kurdish insurgents in densely populated areas in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.