On January 16th, Turkish authorities arrested 27 academics ‘guilty’ of signing and supporting the call “We Will not Be a Party to This Crime”, demanding to end the Turkish government’s deliberate massacre of the Kurdish population and to immediately resume peace talks. In fact, more than a thousand individuals in 90 universities have been targeted for criminal investigation. Although following international pressure the 27 academics were soon released, they now may face trial for ‘propagandising for a terrorist organization’, which could result in up to five years of incarceration. These are not only extremely worrying and entirely unacceptable facts as far as academic freedom is concerned; they are also part of the ongoing authoritarian turn taken by the Turkish government, which not only has consequences for the safety and well-being of the Kurdish population but has already begun to impinge political liberties more in general, with curfews in southeastern Turkey and limited access to food, water, electricity and medical care in areas affecting 200,000 people.
Academics associated with US colleges and universities can show solidarity with their colleagues working in Turkey by signing this petition here, calling for an end to the Turkish government’s attack against academic freedom, and demanding ‘to immediately cease and desist all investigations into, and prosecutions of, signatories to the statement “We will not be a party to this crime.” Let us not leave them alone.