The past two years have seen many dramatic changes in Turkey. Leading up to the General Election in June 2015, there was a sense of hope. Many intellectuals and academics joined forces to ensure the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) passed the 10% election threshold and enter parliament. It was thought that the presence of HDP in the parliament would help secure and speed up the negotiation process between the Turkish government and PKK. After the election, which indeed enabled HDP to enter parliament, we understood that advocating for peace remains a priority. The ISIL/ISIS bombings in Suruç (July 2015) and in Ankara (October 2015), killing innocent peace advocates, highlighted the urgency of this cause.
Our last petition which was a call for peace and criticising Turkish military operations in the south-east region received widespread attention – thanks in part to disproportionate reaction from the Turkish President, Prime Minister, Higher Education Council, university Chancellors and mainstream media. “We Will Not Be A Party To This Crime” was signed by 1128 academics of Turkey almost a year ago, on 11 January 2016 (reproduced below). We called on the Turkish government to take initiative to end the violence against civilian population in the region with this declaration (every day we hear another human rights organization confirming this violence, such as the ).Attacks on us followed, including:
- the President’s hate speeches labelling us a traitor, terrorist, ‘criticizing the state while not saying anything to PKK’;
- a right-wing mafia leader’s threat that ‘we will shower with their blood’;
- and the mainstream, right wing, AKP supporter media’s publishing each academics’ names and photographs and targeting us.
After these attacks, another thousand academics have signed the petition to show solidarity.
Currently, the state of emergency, which was brought as a reaction to the 15 July 2016 attempted military coup, is being used to pressures not only against academic freedom – but all journalistic and intellectual freedom.
The table above lists the violations against Academics for Peace signatories. It should be added that also we are charged with supporting terrorism and waiting to defend ourselves in the courts, against the penalty of most possibly up to 3-years imprisonment.
What you can do
You can support all peace academics in general, and lists seven ways of supporting academics in Turkey. MeCCSA as an organization already contributed to our struggle and supported academic freedom with which was written to the ministry (see Three-D Issue 26).
Besides all these, as a communication scholar network, I would like invite you to offer more specific support to media and communication scholars through different ways – such as inviting Turkish colleagues as a visiting lecturer or researcher, including them to your international research teams, and so forth.
“We Will Not Be A Party To This Crime”
As academics and researchers of this country, we will not be a party to this crime!
The Turkish state has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur,Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighborhoods in the Kurdish provinces to hunger through its use of curfews that have been ongoing for weeks. It has attacked these settlements with heavy weapons and equipment that would only be mobilized in wartime. As a result, the right to life, liberty, and security, and in particular the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment protected by the constitution and international conventions have been violated.
This deliberate and planned massacre is in serious violation of Turkey’s own laws and international treaties to which Turkey is a party. These actions are in serious violation of international law.
We demand the state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region. We also demand the state to lift the curfew, punish those who are responsible for human rights violations, and compensate those citizens who have experienced material and psychological damage. For this purpose we demand that independent national and international observers to be given access to the region and that they be allowed to monitor and report on the incidents.
We demand the government to prepare the conditions for negotiations and create a road map that would lead to a lasting peace which includes the demands of the Kurdish political movement. We demand inclusion of independent observers from broad sections of society in these negotiations. We also declare our willingness to volunteer as observers. We oppose suppression of any kind of the opposition.
We, as academics and researchers working on and/or in Turkey, declare that we will not be a party to this massacre by remaining silent and demand an immediate end to the violence perpetrated by the state. We will continue advocacy with political parties, the parliament, and international public opinion until our demands are met.
Signed by 1128 academics of Turkey, on 11 January 2016