Turkey: Solidarity with ‘Academics for Peace’

International Solidarity needed as Erdogan Regime Cracks Down on Academics for Peace!

On January 11, 1,128 academics in Turkey published “Academics for Peace”, a declaration demanding that the state put an end to violence directed against civilians, and making clear that they will not be a party to these crimes. While denouncing the Turkish state for oppressing its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighborhoods in the Kurdish provinces through its use of long-lasting curfews, the statement also pointed out that the Turkish state has been constantly violating the rights of life, liberty and security as well as ignoring the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment which are protected by the Constitution.

In response to the petition, Erdogan made successive speeches accusing the academics who signed it of “treason”, “ignorance” and “dishonor”. Immediately after, prosecutors began investigating all 1,128 signatories, charging them with “propagandising for a terrorist organization” and “overtly insulting the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Government of Republic of Turkey and the judicial organs of the state”. Subsequently, many academics have been taken into custody, faced public threats and some have even been fired from their universities.

These scandalous acts of retribution have sparked a reaction among many academics who have stood in solidarity with the academics facing persecution, discrimination and legal charges. While the original signatories included academics such as the political scientist Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, scholars from a wide range of universities in the UK have also published a statement condemning Turkey for its “recent treatment of academics that have spoken out against atrocities being committed by the Turkish state against Kurds”.

This has materialised in a context of continuing state violence against Kurds. Since July 2015, it has been reported that the long-continued curfews have resulted in high incidence of civil deaths: 56 in Cizre; 29 in Silopi; 17 in Sur; 23 in Nusaybin; and 5 in Dargecit. Beside these 5 towns, blockades that have been imposed in 15 different towns and neighbourhoods have caused 131 deaths, and hundreds of citizens have been injured.

This one-sided civil war is a continuation of the class struggle in Turkey which has intensified over the past few years. The struggle has developed on the basis of the unity of Kurdish and Turkish workers and youth who have been standing up to the attacks of the Erdogan regime against living standards and democratic rights. Seeing a rising tide of opposition, Erdogan has worked tirelessly to divide the movement along national lines as well as attempting to foment an atmosphere of terror, instability and racist hysteria.

The only way to combat the regime and its reactionary plots is to build on the existing class solidarity and prepare an all-Turkish movement on class lines. The fact that more and more people, such as the academics, are daring to stand up against Erdogan in spite of the dangers that this puts them in, is an indication of the mood of anger and defiance which exists beneath the surface. At a certain stage, as the initial hysteria wears off, this mood will come openly to the fore and shake the regime to its foundations.

The International Marxist Tendency demands that the Turkish state to withdraw all charges and immediately release all those imprisoned for anti-regime political activity, and that it commit to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech. We stand in solidarity with the brave academics who signed the “Academics for Peace” declaration, the Kurdish masses who are living under curfews and experiencing state terror on a daily basis, and the entire working class and youth of Turkey who alone have the power to end the nightmare of capitalism.