46 People charged for supporting the academicians’ peace initiative demand they be prosecuted have been cleared of all wrongdoing
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46 People charged for supporting the academicians’ peace initiative demand they be prosecuted have been cleared of all wrongdoing

In a bizarre case to prove their innocence, 46 people charged with supporting the Academicians’ Peace Initiative had marched to the Ankara prosecutors’ office and demanded a criminal investigation of themselves for supporting a professor, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, this time. 

Şebnem Korur Fincancı had been a guest editor for the Özgür Gündem, a national daily paper.  The pro-Kurdish paper had been under tremendous government attack where each and every one of its editors was investigated and charged with bogus accusations, mostly for harboring and supporting “terrorism.”  Many of its members are serving prison time under the dictatorial regime of Turkey.  To call attention to this absurd attack on the paper and to expose the Turkish government’s restrictions on free press, the daily had asked supporting intellectuals to act as a guest editor for a day, taking turns.  A good number of well know journalists, academicians and well known dissidents had stepped up to this symbolic resistance and had performed as the editor in chief of the paper.

As expected, this didn’t deter the Turkish government form its attacks as many of the guest editors were also charged automatically and without even specifying what or which article constituted breaking the law. 

As a gesture of solidarity professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı had also stepped in and acted as the editor for the Kurdish Özgür Gündem.  Immediately she became the target of Erdoğan’s dictatorial Turkish government.  Another journalist, Erol Önderoğlu had also been charged by the prosecutors for the same crime of being a guest editor in chief.

Then a group of academicians came out with a declaration, famously known as the “Initiative of Academicians for Peace.”  In this open letter, the academicians were clearly expressing their opposition to the full court press of the Turkish government’s brutal and illegal military attack on its own civilian population.  The letter is also known with its title, “We will not be part of this crime.”  The government turned its wrath against the professors and researchers from the universities who exposed the Turkish government’s crimes against humanity.  Only recently a UN report also acknowledged the crimes Turkey has committed against the Kurds where entire towns were razed to the ground, and the police and the military acting together with open and active participation of ISIS terrorists from Syria on their sides had attacked the defenseless Kurdish population.  The exact same crimes the academicians were saying they will not take a part in.

The 46 defenders against the Turkish prosecutors’ charges who had requested a criminal investigation of themselves because they too agreed with every single sentence of the Peace Initiative declaration asked the prosecutors to charge them again, this time for supporting the prosecuted editors in chief of the Özgür Gündem.  Considering the seriousness of the charge against the Academicians’ Peace Initiative, that accuses the professors with “Committing terrorist propaganda through media” this was a bold move by the defenders to publicly declare they supported a Kurdish newspaper in a country that looks at most of its Kurdish population as terrorists.   The consequences of such a bold move could spell disaster in a country like Turkey where now the judges, the prosecutors, the chief of police and investigators are being collected in the hands of a very small number of loyalists around Erdoğan.


Recently, on February 17, 2017, the government’s attorney general concluded that the 46 supporters of the academicians’ Peace Initiative had not broken any laws.  The conclusion would also be used for the academicians because accusing them of writing the initiative, the government loyalist university administration had purged all dissidents.  It still remains to be seen if the administration would give the jobs back to the faculty fired for committing “terrorist propaganda through media,” now that the text is proven by the prosecutor not t have broken any laws.