Turkish academic jailed for 15 months after signing peace petition

Istanbul scholar Büşra Ersanli is one of 241 scholars to face legal action for signing a 2016 peace declaration

June 15, 2018
Istanbul Erdogan medical rector health sciences university anger
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A Turkish academic has been jailed for 15 months for signing a petition that criticised military action against Kurdish rebels.

Büşra Ersanli was one of more than 2,000 academics who signed the “Academics for Peace” petition in January 2016, which condemned the Turkish government for its violation of human rights and civilian casualties among the predominantly Kurdish population of eastern Turkey during military operations there at the time.

On 5 June, Dr Ersanli, who worked at Marmara University, in Istanbul, was convicted by a court in Istanbul on charges of making propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to the Turkey Purge website.

More than 240 academics who signed the peace declaration, titled “We Will Not Be a Party to This [Turkish state] Crime” have so far appeared in court, with trials beginning in December 2017.

Fourteen of these academics have so far been sentenced to 15 months in prison.

All of the sentences were suspended, except for those of Dr Ersanli, who has previously criticised the Turkish government, and Zübeyde Füsun Üstel, from Galatasaray University, according to the Stockholm Center for Freedom.

Almost 6,000 academics have been fired over alleged links to banned political organisation since July 2016 when a military coup failed to oust Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who blames the putsch on the exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen and his followers.

Some 568 people were detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement in a crackdown that has seen nearly 160,000 people rounded up and 90,000 arrested over ties to the movement since the summer of 2016.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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