Turkey: Academics Call for Peace and Justice

Turkey-academic-callWe, the undersigned academics, are deeply concerned about the escalating violence after the general elections held on June 7th in Turkey. After these elections, AKP, the previously ruling party, has lost its absolute majority status and yet appears to act as if its status has not changed, undermining the electoral votes. The transition government put together with the AKP-appointed ministers has embarked upon a military and political campaign within and outside of Turkey. The horrific suicide bombing in Suruç, Turkey, appears to be used as grounds for the justification of the recent military operations. On 20 July 2015, a suicide bombing in Suruç has killed more than thirty young activists who were prepared to cross the Syrian border and to bring support and toys for the Kurdish youth and children in Kobane, the Syrian town attacked by ISIS. The request placed at the Turkish Parliament to investigate the Suruç bombing has been blocked by the AKP votes with the support of the nationalist Turkist party MHP. Instead, under the pretext of Suruç-related security matters, state officials started military and political operations that target dissident groups—mainly the Kurds. The escalation of violence—an outcome of these operations—propels Turkey into a climate of war. As it becomes difficult to keep an account of the death toll, we consider it our professional and humanitarian duty to call for the end of these operations and hereby urge our colleagues to join us in our plea for a political resolution.

State of exception is declared in different places in Turkey, and implemented by the state security forces. These implementations cause grave concerns, such as the case of Cizre, a district of the province Şırnak in Turkey, close to the Syrian border. The curfew in Cizre and its reported brutality attest to the gravity of the situation. We are dismayed by the reports of security forces shooting and killing civilians, including infants and children, their obstructing medical aid and assistance, blocking necessary health care and services for the injured and ill, as well as denying proper burial for the dead. Delayed burials reportedly resulted in people struggling to preserve the body of their loved ones for several days in order to prevent body decay in the extreme heat of Cizre (40C/104F). In addition, reported food and water shortage, blocked communication means with Cizre have been unsettling to say the least. Ministers and deputies from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi, HDP) accompanied by representatives of various NGOs were not allowed to enter the district of Cizre. Further, the blocking of landlines and GSM operators, bans on the internet and the extreme measures of pressure implemented on journalists (i.e., imprisonment, prosecution, or, for foreign journalists, deportation) severely restrict means to access information as to what is happening in Cizre. Whereas information is limited, there are serious concerns about the scale of a massacre endured by its inhabitants.
State and media elites appear to target the representatives of a legitimately elected political party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and to criminalize them (i.e., as the responsible party for the escalating violence). Despite HDP representatives’ repeated calls for peace and the immediate cessation of fire, a discriminatory and brutal hate speech has dominated the political discourses about them. A new tide of violence and synchronized pogroms targeting Kurdish citizens, their homes and workplaces, as well as the Peoples’ Democratic Party headquarters and officials has swept the country. While security forces appear disconcertingly reluctant and inadequate to prevent such systematic attacks, state authorities appear to justify these inadmissible acts of violence as an emotional outburst..

We, the undersigned academics, call on the people of Turkey to take a stance in favor of peace, justice and co-existence. At a time when the right to life of the Kurdish citizens is under threat within the borders of Turkey, we call on all the political authorities to stand up for political resolution, justice and peace instead of arms and death.”

link to petition: here