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Robert Cusack

Kurdish academics in Turkey arrested after signing peace document

A group of academics protest against the government's emergency powers in Ankara [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 May, 2017

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Dozens of academics at a university in Diyarbakir have been arrested under an emergency powers law after signing a document that called for peace and condemned Turkey's treatment of Kurds.

Seventeen academics have been arrested under terrorism laws in south east Turkey after they signed a peace declaration.

Fifteen of those employees arrested at Dicle University in the Kurdish city, Diyarbakir, were taken into custody by anti-terrorism officers (TEM) attached to the local Security Directorate.

The academics were arrested under an emergency powers decree that bans employees from signing up to a petition called "We will not be a party to this crime!"

A total of 484 academics have reportedly lost their jobs across Turkey for signing up to the petition, condemning the "deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish" people across Turkey.

"If what they've done is a crime, then I've committed the same crime," Mahmut Togrul, a politician with the pro-Kurdish party, HDP, wrote on Facebook.

"These friends of my friends have devoted their lives to science, to defending human rights and democracy; fighting for peace and fighting for the community.

"I'm defending the same things they are."

The names of the fifteen who were arrested in Diyarbakir have been reported as: Aziz Harman, Emine Oak, Fikret Uyar, Irfan Acıkgoz Murat Biricik, Murat Kizil Mustafa Oguz Sinemillogl, Suleyman Red, Tahsin Willow, Yasemin Bulut, Yassin Badr, Yilmaz Turgut, Zeki Kanay Zuhal Toker.

The petition calls for an end to the use of torture and ill-treatment used by Turkish authorities against Kurdish civilians.

"The Turkish State has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighbourhoods in the Kurdish provinces to hunger through its use of curfews.

"It has attacked these settlements with heavy weapons and equipment that would only be mobilised 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," the statement read.

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