Turkey probes academics over petition against crackdown on Kurds

Some 1,200 academics from 90 Turkish universities signed the petition last week calling for an end to the months-long violence

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Turkey on Thursday launched an investigation into academics who signed a petition criticising the military’s crackdown on Kurdish rebels in the southeast that angered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Some 1,200 academics from 90 Turkish universities calling themselves “Academicians for Peace” as well as foreign scholars signed the petition last week calling for an end to the months-long violence.

Entitled “We won’t be a party to this crime”, the petition urges Ankara to “abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region.”

It was signed by several foreign luminaries, among them American linguist Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek.

An Istanbul prosecutor launched the investigation, with the academics facing allegations ranging from “terrorist propaganda” to “inciting people to hatred, violence and breaking the law” and “insulting Turkish institutions and the Turkish Republic,” the official Anatolia news agency said.

Erdogan fired off an angry tirade against “those so-called intellectuals” on Thursday, accusing them of “treason” and being the “fifth columns” of foreign powers bent on undermining Turkey’s national security.

“You are people in the dark. You are not intellectuals!” he said. “All you want is to stir up this country.”

Latife Akyuz, an associate professor of sociology from Duzce University in northwest Turkey, has been removed from her post after signing the petition, Dogan news agency reported.

Turkey is waging an all-out offensive against the PKK, with military operations backed by curfews aimed at flushing out rebels from several southeastern urban centres.

Kurdish activists say dozens of civilians have died as a result of excessive use of force.

Six people were killed, including three children, and 39 others were wounded on Thursday in a truck bomb attack by the PKK that ripped through a police station and an adjacent housing complex for officers’ families in Cinar in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

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