The #WarOnKurds and Academics for Peace


Academics in Turkey and abroad have condemned the Turkish campaign in the Kurdish provinces. The state's reaction has been undemocratic and worrisome.

15/01/2016: UPDATED below. 18/01/2015: UPDATE 2 below.



On January 13, Turkish President Erdoğan said, to a group of academics:

“Pick a side. You are either on the side of the Turkish government, or you’re on the side of the terrorists.” (Source)

A day before, the Turkish Supreme Education Board (YÖK) announced this group of academics would have to face legal action for signing a petition (Source). What is this about?

1,128 academics from 89 universities in Turkey, and over 355 academics and researchers from abroad have signed a text calling on state of Turkey to end state violence in the Kurdish provinces and prepare negotiation conditions. Among them are such noted academics as Tariq Ali, David Graeber, Cynthia Enloe, Alessandra Mezzadri, Slavoj Zizek, Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Immanuel Wallerstein, Franco Berardi, Etienne Balibar, and David Harvey.

The following is the text of the petition (Source), which has incited such a strong response from Turkish government (For international support, please send your signature, name of your university and your title to info [a] and barisicingazeteciler [a]


"The Turkish state has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighborhoods in the Kurdish provinces to hunger through its use of curfews that have been ongoing for weeks. It has attacked these settlements with heavy weapons and equipment that would only be mobilized 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.


This deliberate and planned massacre is in serious violation of Turkey’s own laws and international treaties to which Turkey is a party. These actions are in serious violation of international law. 

We demand the state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region. We also demand the state to lift the curfew, punish those who are responsible for human rights violations, and compensate those citizens who have experienced material and psychological damage. For this purpose we demand that independent national and international observers to be given access to the region and that they be allowed to monitor and report on the incidents.

We demand the government to prepare the conditions for negotiations and create a road map that would lead to a lasting peace which includes the demands of the Kurdish political movement. We demand inclusion of independent observers from broad sections of society in these negotiations. We also declare our willingness to volunteer as observers. We oppose suppression of any kind of the opposition.

We, as academics and researchers working on and/or in Turkey, declare that we will not be a party to this massacre by remaining silent and demand an immediate end to the violence perpetrated by the state. We will continue advocacy with political parties, the parliament, and international public opinion until our demands are met".



UPDATE 15/01/2016:

Today, the Turkish police detained more than 20 signatories of the petition from the University of Kocaeli. (Source - EnglishSource - German)

Yesterday, while the number of signatures to the petition reached more than 2000, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in İstanbul launched an investigation into all the signatories of the petition. The academics are apparently accused of "provoking the people towards hatred and enmity, disseminating terrorist propaganda in favor of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), humiliating the Turkish Republic, state and its institutions as well as Turkishness."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Davutoğlu is quoted with the worrisome statement that the petition "cannot be considered in the context of freedom of thought." (Source)

Furthermore, we came across an interview Judith Butler gave to T24 on January 13, in which she fittingly states that "The labelling of critical discussion as treachery is an old and indefensible tactic of governments that want to broaden their power at the expense of democracy."


UPDATE 18/01/2016:


A group of scholars of Iranian studies has published a letter of support for the academics being undemocratically victimized by the Turkish state.Read it here. 


For further information on the issue:

The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) has released a fact sheet with some of the grueling facts on Turkey’s war in the Kurdish provinces.

Amnesty International has an ongoing “Urgent action” on the rights violations in Turkey.


A separate petition urging the Turkish government to abandon the path to an “escalation of violence, human rights abuse and ‘the state of exceptions’ becoming the norm especially in the southeast of Turkey” is ongoing on

The experience of Greece demonstrates the importance of building a pan European movement based on values of solidarity and deep democracy. Thank you for doing so much to organise this .
Hilary Wainwright| Red Pepper magazine |

"This is sheer unbridled sadism. The Greek people are being punished for the failure of the neo-liberal consensus to avert the hideous and increasing forms of inequality which were always inscribed within its mandate. Nothing can explain why the most powerful countries of Europe should want to continue to impose on Greece policies which have brought it to the brink of collapse, other than the desire to precipitate a true collapse which they will then take as the proof that only their vicious system could have saved it - a self-defeating argument and a blatant lie. We can only speculate what unconscious links there must be between the forgiving of Germany's post-war debt, of which it remains the beneficiary to this day and without which it would not be in a position to dictate its terms, and its refusal to countenance any such forgiveness, let alone the paying of war reparations, to Greece. No logic can explain it. We have entered the realm of the cruellest social fantasy. The irony is that the whole of Europe will now suffer. But our hearts go out to the Greek people who will suffer - who are already suffering - most."

Jacqueline Rose, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

Étienne Balibar :"The struggle of the Greek people is the struggle of all European democrats, of all those who believe in human progress . In the case of a potential defeat all European peoples would pay the price. In the case of a potential victory, as limited as it may be, all European peoples would benefit. That's why it is necessary for those French and European forces who have hope in the renewal of democracy to positively answer the calls of Syriza to build European solidarity around Greece and the Greek people. The perspective of a referendum urgently requires the reinforcement of this solidarity"

Slavoj Zizek: "The struggle that goes on is the struggle for theEuropean economic and political Leitkultur.The EU powers stand for the technocratic status quo which is keeping Europe ininertia for decades. In his NotesTowards a Definition of Culture, the great conservative T.S.Eliot remarkedthat there are moments when the only choice is the one between heresy andnon-belief, i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform asectarian split from its main corpse. This is our position today with regard toEurope: only a new "heresy" (represented at this moment by Syriza) can savewhat is worth saving in European legacy: democracy, trust in people,egalitarian solidarity. The Europe that will win if Syriza is outmaneuvered isa "Europe with Asian values" (which, of course, has nothing to do with Asia,but all with the clear and present tendency of contemporary capitalism to suspenddemocracy). We from Western Europe like to look upon Greece as if we aredetached observers who follow with compassion and sympathy the plight of theimpoverished nation. Such a comfortable standpoint relies on a fateful illusion- what goes on in Greece these last weeks concerns all of us, it is the futureof Europe which is at stake. So when we read about Greece these days, we shouldalways bear in mind that, as the old saying goes, de te fabula narrator."

 "The behavior of the Troika today is a disgrace. One can scarcely doubt that their goal is to make it clear that defiance to the northern banks and the Brussels bureaucracy will not be tolerated, and that thoughts of democracy and popular will must be abandoned. Other than power, there is no reason to continue with the shameful farce in which French and German banks profit from the suffering of the people of Greece."The debt should have been radically restructured long ago, or simply declared “odious” and cancelled. Today, Greeks are offered a miserable choice between two painful alternatives. One can only hope that their brave resistance to the brutal assault will encourage global solidarity that will save them and others from the harsh fate dictated by the masters."

Noam CHOMSKY | United States | MIT


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