21:27 GMT +326 September 2017
    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses after he received an honorary doctorate from Qatar University in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015

    Facing Repression, Turkish Academics Circulate New Anti-Erdogan Petition

    © AP Photo/ Yasin Bulbul, Presidential Press Service
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    Last week, the Erdogan government cracked down on the Turkish academic community after over 1,400 academics from 89 universities signed a petition urging the government to "stop the massacre and deportation" of Kurds in the south of the country. Now, academics have prepared a new, harder edged petition, consisting of four points.

    Last week, Turkish authorities detained 18 academics opposed to the government's treatment of the Kurdish minority, accusing the teachers of 'terrorist propaganda', in a move which human rights groups and academics from around the world quickly condemned.

    ​Now, the repressed academics have prepared a new, more forceful petition, Sputnik Turkey reports.

    Professor Baskin Oran, one of the academics who signed both petitions, filled Sputnik in on the contents of the new appeal, and commented on the desperate situation which has unfolded in the country.

    The new petition, which has four points, reads as follows:

    "1. The Erdogan regime, using the pretext of unrest in the country which they themselves created (i.e., a situation reminiscent of the coup of September 12, 1980), will not be able to apply dictatorial pressure on Turkish academics and the Turkish people who a point of view which is different from the official ideology."

    "2. The situation associated with the construction of trenches and barricades in southeast Turkey did not come about as a result of today's conflict. It is the result of the promises which were given to the Kurds, beginning in 1919, and which have not been fulfilled, resulting in frustration caused by the winding down of negotiations on the settlement of the Kurdish question, and the suffocating repression against the Kurdish population."

    "3. Erdogan's regime, hiding behind various pretexts, will not be able to kill the Kurdish people, will not be able to harass and humiliate the residents of the southeastern provinces of the country, and will not be able to turn their cities into ruins."

    "4. The Kurdistan Workers' Party [a militant organization officially banned in Turkey], in the fight against the state's policy aimed at the destruction of the Kurdish population, must not harm civilians, using the methods of blind, merciless terror, which enables the Turkish authorities to further increase pressure on the civilian population."

    The current situation, Professor Oran suggested, is reminiscent of the period which followed the military coup of September 12, 1980. "At that time [too], our patience had come to an end, and the academic community issued an appeal to the authorities. But even in that period's darkest moments, the government did not openly apply the level of repression [against academics] which it is today. At the same time, Erdogan has brought the situation to a point where we can no longer remain silent."

    Asked why the academics' appeal had caused such an apparent overreaction from the authorities, Oran suggested that it was part of President Erdogan's clumsy attempt to intimidate the Turkish people.

    "Was it rational or irrational to inflate the situation to such an extent? Of course it was irrational. But from Erdogan's view, this was reasonable cause [for a crackdown]. Erdogan is attempting to intimidate the Turkish people. At every possible opportunity, he attempts to sow chaos and to deepen the rift in Turkish society."

    "This time, he found a pretext in the petition of the academics. Dictatorial and authoritarian regimes from time immemorial have used similar rhetoric, similar words of accusation and insult, to achieve the desired effect. And these templates have been left unchanged."

    At the same time, Oran warns, "dictators are mistaken in their belief that people can be restrained forever, increasing the level of pressure and repression against them. At a certain point, when the degree of pressure exceeds that which the people are able to withstand, it will become impossible to hold back their protest and discontent. Erdogan will have to face the consequences of such a protest."

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