Global outcry over academic freedom and human rights has erupted following news on Friday that the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has arrested at least 18 academics and scholars for signing an open letter last week calling for the end of Turkey's brutal treatment of the country's Kurdish people.
The controversy has been elevated internationally by the involvement of Noam Chomsky and other
high-profile academics who have also expressed public contempt for Turkey's policies towards the Kurds as well as Erdoğan's double-standards on fighting "terrorism" both inside his own country and
in neighboring Syria.
Police have detained at least 12 academics over alleged “terror propaganda” after they signed a petition together with more than 1,400 others calling for an end to Turkey’s “deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish people”.Offering further details, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported that 15 academics from Kocaeli University in northwestern Turkey and three from Uludag University in the neighboring province of Bursa were among those detained for questioning. Chief Prosecutor Mustafa Kucuk accused the group of spreading terrorist propaganda and "insulting the moral integrity of the state." Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu implied the academics had chosen to "align" themselves with terrorists.
In a crackdown, condemned by the US ambassador as “chilling”, police are also still processing the paperwork of nine other academics who also face arrest.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has severely criticised the signatories, including political scientist Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, and called on the judiciary to act against their alleged treachery.
Prosecutors launched an investigation into the academics over possible charges of insulting the state and engaging in terrorist propaganda.
Staff from 90 Turkish universities calling themselves “Academicians for Peace” signed the
petition last week calling for an end to the military campaign against the Kurds and accusing the government of breaching international law.
On Friday, students protested the arrests under the banner "don't touch my teacher."