Turkey frees academics detained over petition on Kurds

Tens of academics were detained for signing a petition demanding military operations in the southeast to end.

    A ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed last July followed by a major military campaign on Kurdish rebels [Reuters]
    A ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed last July followed by a major military campaign on Kurdish rebels [Reuters]

    Turkish prosecutors have released tens of academics detained for signing a petition calling for an end to the army campaign against Kurdish rebels in the southeast of the country. 

    Friday's detentions over the petition, which was signed by more than 1,000 academics, targeted 21 scholars working for a state university in the northwestern city of Kocaeli and several more in other cities.

    The probe launched into the academics on Thursday was to look into possible charges of insulting the state and engaging in "terrorist propaganda" on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is engaged in a bloody battle with Turkish forces. 

    "We ask the state to put an end to the violence it has been inflicting on citizens right now," the petition released earlier this week said.

    "We, as academics and researchers of this country, declare that we will not be silenced [and] become a party to this crime," it added.

    It also called for payment of compensation to citizens who suffered during the operations and for the preparation of conditions for peace talks to commence.


    The declaration has been condemned by many, including government officials, for not mentioning or criticising the PKK.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have sharply criticised the petition, and Erdogan even called on the judiciary to act against the "treachery" of the signatories.

    READ MORE: Turkey detains academics over petition on Kurdish issue

    The petition was also signed by renowned foreign academics such as Noam Chomsky and David Harvey.

    Some of the academics retracted their support for the petition following the investigations launched by prosecutors and universities into them.

    Several signatory scholars have been suspended by universities.

    Turkey and the PKK announced a ceasefire in 2013, but it collapsed last July. Fighting has since resumed, with Turkey running an air campaign against the group that launched an armed rebellion more than 30 years ago.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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