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Turkey: Crackdown on Kurdish Communities, Academics, Journalists

February 02, 2016
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International academics are raising concern about the crackdown against their Turkish colleagues who have signed a petition denouncing the Turkish military’s violent crackdown on Kurdish communities. The petition, entitled "We Will Not Be a Party to This Crime," has been signed by more than 2,000 professors, including Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and David Harvey. In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has verbally attacked the professors. Turkish security forces have arrested more than two dozen professors on charges of spreading "terrorism propaganda." In New York City, dozens of academics held a press conference to call attention to the crackdown. Columbia University professor Marianne Hirsch spoke out.

Marianne Hirsch: "The petition that was signed by over 2,000 people, 'We Will Not Be a Party to This Crime,' merely asked the government to observe national and international law and to initiate a peace process with the populations of southeast Anatolia in this Kurdish-dominated region that they have been targeting with major acts of persecution. Almost immediately, the signatories of this petition were targeted by the Turkish government, and they were accused, as we’ve been hearing, of terrorist propaganda, investigated by their universities and otherwise harassed."

This comes as a top U.N. human rights official is urging Turkey to investigate a report that the army opened fire on unarmed civilians in the majority Kurdish town of Cizre. The shooting was captured on film by Turkish journalist Refik Tekin. The video appears to show security forces shooting at a group of unarmed people, some of whom are carrying white flags. At least two people were said to be killed. The journalist is now facing arrest on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization.

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