Dr. Gençay Gürsoy of Turkey was charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” on the grounds of his support of the declaration prepared by the group Academics for Peace. The country of Turkey is experiencing a repression of rights of its citizens. In the wake of an attempted coup in 2016, reports detail the dismissal of more than 7,000 educators at higher education institutions in the country. In addition, emergency decrees from the government have resulted in the expulsion of over 300 students from attending university.
The group Academics for Peace recently released a statement calling on the Turkish government to cease human rights violations in the country. The full text is as follows:
The Turkish state has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighborhoods in the Kurdish provinces to hunger through its use of curfews that have been ongoing for weeks. It has attacked these settlements with heavy weapons and equipment that would only be mobilized in wartime. As a result, the right to life, liberty, and security, and in particular the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment protected by the constitution and international conventions have been violated.
This deliberate and planned massacre is in serious violation of Turkey’s own laws and international treaties to which Turkey is a party. These actions are in serious violation of international law.
We demand the state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region. We also demand the state to lift the curfew, punish those who are responsible for human rights violations, and compensate those citizens who have experienced material and psychological damage. For this purpose we demand that independent national and international observers to be given access to the region and that they be allowed to monitor and report on the incidents.
We demand 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. We demand inclusion of independent observers from broad sections of society in these negotiations. We also declare our willingness to volunteer as observers. We oppose suppression of any kind of the opposition.
We, as academics and researchers working on and/or in Turkey, declare that we will not be a party to this massacre by remaining silent and demand an immediate end to the violence perpetrated by the state. We will continue advocacy with political parties, the parliament, and international public opinion until our demands are met.
Dr. Gürsoy, a signatory of the document, was sentenced to a term of 2 years and 3 months in prison for propagandizing an armed terrorist organization. The Turkish government considers ethnic Kurds residing in the country to be terrorists, and the statement of support of their rights from Academics for Peace thus warrants a heavy penalization. The board did not reduce his sentence on the basis of his negative attitude and lack of remorse for supporting the organization. Various groups have called for Dr. Gürsoy’s release.