Translated from German by Translators for justice
Statement by the Assoziation für kritische Gesellschaftsforschung (AkG, Association for Critical Social Research) in Solidarity with its Turkish Colleagues
On January 10, 2016, the Turkish organization Barış için Akademisyenler (Academics for Peace) issued a statement under the heading: We, the Academics of This Country, Will Not Be a Party to This Crime! The initial signers were made up of more than 1,000 scholars and scientists. Their signatures were a condemnation of the warfare being conducted by the current Turkish government under President Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). Numerous Kurdish cities in Turkey have been in a state of civil war since the Turkish government called off its negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) last summer and began an intensive bombing campaign against its encampments in Northern Iraq. Turkish security forces do not distinguish between combatants and civilians. Curfews as well as restrictions on electricity, water, and other supplies directly target the civilian populations of entire cities. Hunger and denial of humanitarian supplies are being used as weapons. The Turkish regime is deliberately waging war on the Kurdish civilian population in violation of international conventions.
The statement from Academics for Peace is in opposition to this form of warfare and calls on the government to stop its aggression and to create the conditions for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Moreover, it calls on the government to, “Submit a roadmap that will make negotiations possible and incorporate demands for political representation for the Kurdish movement. Independent public observers must be admitted into the negotiations as a means of including the general populace in the process.”
Responses to the Academics for Peace statement came quickly. The powerful, pro-AKP newspaper Sabah accused the authors and signers of “treason” and of disseminating “PKK and HDP ideas.” It also published their names (article here, in Turkish).
The Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK), an institution that was created by the military junta in 1980 as a way to directly control university staff and that still has a significant role in, among other things, granting faculty appointments, conducted an investigation and announced that such an occurrence “would not happen again.” It very quickly took disciplinary steps against the signers, which will in all likelihood cost them their jobs for having expressed an opinion (see articles here (Turkish) and here (English)).
President Erdoğan has spoken of “so-called scientists” and stoked anger against them by referring to them as, among other things, “traitors”. An influential member of the Turkish mafia, which has been intimately involved with the state security apparatus in many ways and was not infrequently used as an extension of the state in the 1990s, has made death threats. The web page where the statement was published has been hacked multiple times by Turkish fascists and often cannot be accessed.
As the Assoziation für kritische Gesellschaftsforschung (AkG, Association for Critical Social Research), we call on the Turkish government to respect the autonomy and the freedom of opinion of Academics for Peace. Criticism of the state is a basic principle of democracy and it must not be restricted or punished on the basis of political caprice. The investigations into Academics for Peace must cease immediately so that its members can continue their scholarly activities unimpeded.
We stand in solidarity with our Turkish and Kurdish colleagues and will continue to watch developments in Turkey.
See the statement at http://barisicinakademisyenler.net/node/63.html
The Turkish campaign can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.