Academics: The call for peace cannot be put on trial

The Turkish state continues to target the academics for peace since the joint declaration of their stance towards the war of the Turkish government against the civilian population in Turkey's Kurdish region.

More than two thousand academics across Turkey signed a petition entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” in January 2016, calling for a peaceful solution to the military conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish Freedom Struggle, PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). In the petition, the signatories said that they were condemning the state violence against the Kurds and the Turkish state’s ongoing violation of its own laws and international treaties.

The academics then faced pressure and legal actions upon an instruction by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who called them "traitors" and “so-called intellectuals”. Dozens of those who undersigned the declaration of peace were dismissed from duty or detained by anti-terror police, while their offices were also raided by the police for a detailed search of “evidence of links to terror”.

Three academics were even accused of receiving instruction from KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) through a news article published by ANF on 22 December, 2015, in which KCK Executive Council Co-President Bese Hozat called upon the intellectual and democrat circles in Turkey to support the self-rule resistance of the Kurdish people in order for the achievement of democratization in the entire country. Police described the interview as an “instruction”, claiming that the joint declaration of peace was released on 11 January 2016 in line with this news.

Istanbul 28th Heavy Penal Court ruled for a verdict of acquittal in the trial of 5 Academics for Peace who were accused of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" for having signed the declaration.

The academics made a press statement regarding the court verdict in front of Çağlayan Courthouse. They were accompanied by Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) Co-spokesperson Gülistan Kılıç Koçyiğit, DISK (Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Trade Unions) President Arzu Çerkezoğlu, KESK (Confederation of Public Workers' Trade Unions) Co-presidents Aysun Gezen and Mehmet Bozgeyik and many people.


One of the academics acquitted in the mentioned trial, Tuna Altınel, pointed out that the academy was witnessing a grand elimination.

Altınel remarked that Turkish courts have started to rule for acquittal in the case after the Constitutional Court ruled in July that the sentences violate the academics' freedom of expression.

Referring to the court verdict yesterday in the Kızıltepe JITEM case in relation with the murder and enforced disappearance of 22 people, Academic Altınel noted that charges have been dropped as the 20-year statutory limitations have expired, and retired Colonel Hasan Atilla Uğur and Diyarbakır Provincial Gendarmerie Commander of the time Colonel Eşref Hatipoğlu were acquitted of "establishing and leading an armed organization".

Altınel continued; “As long as impunity continues, and unless connections to the Kurdish question are transformed, violence will never end, not only in Kurdish cities but everywhere. Justice for them can only be built within peace. We will continue to work in every field for the achievement of social peace and social justice. We will continue to talk of peace. Acquittals do not mean that the word of peace is done.”


Speaking after, KESK Co-president Mehmet Bozgeyik stressed that the call for peace does not constitute a crime, citing the Turkish Constitutional Court verdict on the case.

“I hope the rulings for acquittal will lead to the judiciary to get out of tutelage and return to the standards of a state of law,” he added.


DİIK President Arzu Çerkezoğlu remarked that the acquittals were not enough, saying; “The victimisation and injustices experienced should be totally eliminated. Academics have been through these processes because they called for peace and justice. For this country, we are talking about a democracy to be established, not a democracy to protect ourselves from. Against those who have been trying to build an authoritarian regime by eliminating the entire democratic background, we will build democracy, justice and peace all together, shoulder to shoulder. We salute our friends who refused to obey.”