Turkey Detains 21 'Academics for Peace' for Anti-Violence Petition

The petition criticized the Turkish government's handling of recent violence in the predominantly Kurdish southeast and called for the end of curfews.
January 15, 2016, 12:05pm
Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

Turkish security forces detained at least 21 academics accused of signing a declaration calling for renewed efforts to end violence between government forces and Kurdish separatists, Turkish media reported on Friday.

Names of the academics who have been detained this morning — Cahida Dêrsim (@dilkocer)January 15, 2016

Among academics Turkey detained on terror charges for signing a 'peace declaration' so far today are 4 Asst. Profs, 7 Assoc. Profs & 7 Profs

— Mustafa Edib Y?lmaz (@MustafaEdib)January 15, 2016

The declaration criticized the Turkish government's handling of recent violence in the predominantly Kurdish southeast and called for the end of curfews. It also called on 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."

The online declaration — which has been hacked and blocked in Turkey — was signed by more than 1,000 people, including the American philosopher Noam Chomsky.  A cached version can be seen here.

Prosecutors had launched an investigation into the declaration on Thursday after its signatories were heavily criticized by both President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for supporting what they call terrorism.

The US Ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, said he was concerned about the investigations and detentions in a statement on the US Embassy in Ankara's Twitter feed.

Statement by Ambassador John Bass on free expression — US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey)January 15, 2016

Turkey has seen some of the worst violence for decades after the collapse of a ceasefire with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) last July left a peace process to end the three-decade insurgency in tatters.

The spiral of tit-for-tat violence has seen security forces carry out widespread operations in the southeast - locking down entire districts and pounding PKK outposts in residential areas, while Kurdish fighters have launched attacks against military and administrative targets. Hundreds have been killed in the fighting.

Overnight on Wednesday a Kurdish militant attack on a police station in Cinar killed six, including a baby, officials said.

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