An Istanbul court arrested three Turkish academics late March 15 for “making terrorist propaganda” when they read out a joint petition signed by more than 1,000 colleagues calling for an end to clashes between security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in January, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The arrest of academics Esra Mungan, Muzaffer Kaya and Kıvanç Ersoy came after the three were detained for holding a press conference on March 10 at the Education and Science Workers’ Union’s (EĞİTİM-Sen) 6th Office in Istanbul, where they read out a declaration entitled “We won’t be part of this crime.”
The court’s verdict said the declaration was in support of the PKK and showed similarities to earlier remarks made by Bese Hozat, a PKK figure.
The academics denied the charges, with Kaya and Ersoy saying they had not heard of Hozat before.
Mungan is an academic at Boğaziçi University’s psychology department and Kaya lectures at Nişantaşı Univeristy. Ersoy lectures at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.
The probe into the petition was opened after 1,128 academics from 89 different universities – including foreign scholars like Noam Chomsky, David Harvey and Immanuel Wallerstein – signed a declaration titled “We won’t be part of this crime.” Universities and prosecutor’s offices across the country subsequently opened probes into many of the 1,128 Turkish and foreign academics and intellectuals who fall within the Turkish state’s jurisdiction, arguing that the petition exceeded the limits of academic freedom. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and government officials have repeatedly criticized the academics who signed the petition, accusing them of supporting the PKK.