U.S. Academics Pledge Solidarity and Denounce Erdoğan’s Attack on Turkish Counterparts

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By Chad Kautzer Ph.D. Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver

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Little angers Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan more than the public defense of the Kurdish people in Turkey. The most recent evidence of this is Erdoğan’s reaction to a petition sponsored by Academics for Peace, titled “We will not be a Party to This Crime.”  That petition, signed by 1,128 courageous academics from 89 universities in Turkey, publicly denounced state violence and repression in the Kurdish provinces.

The petition reads in part:

We ask the state to put an end to violence inflicted against citizens right now, we as academics and researchers of this country declare that we won’t be a party to this crime and that promise that we will sustain our stance in the presence of political parties, parliament and international public.

Upon publication of the petition, President Erdoğan and the authoritarian Justice and Development Party denounced the signatories: “You so-called intellectuals are not enlightened persons, you are in the dark,” said Erdoğan in a public speech. “You are nothing like intellectuals.” Investigations followed, as did detentions and threats of violence on academics.

In response, solidarity with Turkish academics is now being expressed around the world. The open letter from U.S. academics (“Open Letter of Support for Academics under Attack in Turkey”) was posted on Friday, January 15 and has garnered over 500 signatures in two days. The letter states that Erdoğan’s “repressive responses to [the petition] are antithetical to the spirit of our work as academics, and no notion of “Turkishness” can justifiably curtail our exercise of academic freedom.”

Open Letter of Support for Academics under Attack in Turkey

The letter calls for the Turkish government to “immediately cease and desist all investigations into, and prosecutions of, signatories” to the petition as well as to immediately release all detainees. The full text is here.

To sign the statement, email your title, name, and institutional affiliation to academicsUS@gmail.com. Independent scholars, doctoral students, and adjuncts are encouraged to sign and, due to growing international interest, an “international support” section has been created.

Chad Kautzer Ph.D. Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver

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