Peacemakers and Academics Facing Prison in Turkey

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1790 ... March 24, 2019

Peacemakers and Academics Facing Prison in Turkey

Socialist Project Steering Committee

As cultural workers, unionists and academics working in Toronto and Canada, we strongly condemn the continuing harassment and sentencing of academics and students charged by the Turkish state with "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" (Article No. 7/2 of Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law No. 3713). Over two thousand academics in Turkey signed the Academics for Peace statement, "We will not be a party to this crime," which criticized military actions in the Kurdish regions of the country.

So far, 141 academics have received prison sentences ranging 15 to 36 months (for sentences of less than 2 years the verdict is suspended for a period of five years during which the defendant is to refrain from... committing further ‘crimes’ -- a sentence of political silence). Of these decisions, 37 are being appealed, with Professor Füsun Üstel, of Galatasaray University in Istanbul, recently being the first among them to be decided, with the 15 month prison sentence handed down serving as a dangerous precedent. More than a 1000 signatories are still awaiting their cases to be decided with increasing sentencing risks for their trials.

We call upon the Turkish government to immediately suspend the trials of all signatories to the Academics for Peace statement, "We will not be a party to this crime." We call upon the Turkish authorities to immediately exonerate Professor Üstel and the other 141 academics sentenced to prison for exercising their rights of citizenship to petition the government.

We express our solidarity with the academics and students who are targeted by the regime in Turkey for exercising their freedom of speech and academic freedom and we call upon academics around the world to use all available means to support them, including freezing academic collaborations with complicit higher education institutions and universities that deliberately target academic freedom. We call upon the Canadian government and Parliament to intervene on their behalf and to provide permanent stable funding for ‘Scholars at Risk’ programs at Canadian universities.

Below are the cases of three Turkish intellectuals currently being tried on ‘crime of conscience’ in Istanbul and Ankara. The Socialist Project offers our solidarity and support for these vicious and arbitrary attacks on these peacemakers seeking an alternate and just future for the Turkish and Kurdish peoples.

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