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Turkey – Istanbul mourns its dead, Erdogan tightens the screw

, by Jacques Vervier

Istanbul was hit by a bombing perpetrated by a Syrian national, probably a member of ISIS according to Turkish officials. After the death of at least ten German tourists, many Europeans are wholeheartedly with Istanbul. Nevertheless, we tend to not see the wood for the trees. Indeed, Ankara engages in double dealings at its porous borders with ISIS and many questions related to oil-trafficking by the terrorist organisation and Turkey remain unanswered. Meanwhile, the EU’s leaders remain silent.


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After the tragedy which struck European civilians on Sultanahmet square, our solidarity with the Turkish people is tremendous. This being said, it seems important to remember the daily lot of thousands of our neighbours living a bit further East of the Bosporus, the actions and decisions taken by Ankara, which undermine the most fundamental rights of its citizens and which go against the values defended by the EU’s founding fathers.

After this terrorist attack, as usual, the Turkish authorities ordered a media blackout. This measure, allowed by law no. 6112 aims at “protecting the investigation’s interests” and ensuring respect of “ethics”. Unfortunately, this measure actually allows the government to manipulate public opinion. Only once it has announced its version of what happened, media are allowed to express themselves, a bit, but not really freely. In this context, it is interesting to analyse what the one who recently expressed admiration for the totalitarian Nazi regime recently declared.

As he was at the Eighth Ambassadors Conference, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took the floor to condemn all forms of terrorism as well as all terrorist organizations after the bombing. He simultaneously declared that you whether were with the Turkish government or with the terrorists, referring to a call for peace [1] signed by more than a thousand Turkish and foreign academics – among whom Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Etienne Balibar and David Harvey. This call for peace denounces the violence perpetrated by the government in the Eastern region of the country, particularly against the Kurdish minority.

In this region, several pro-Kurdish cities are under siege, citizens are slaughtered and potshots are being taken at children. Power lines are destroyed, schools and other buildings razed to the ground. The rotting victims’ corpses are used by the president’s snipers as bait or taken away by law enforcement. Militants and activists who dare to talk about this are intimidated, in the best case scenarios.

Between Erdoğan’s speech condemning “all forms of terrorism” (including the call for peace) and the writing of this article, it has been announced that some Turkish academics risk losing their position while others risk charges. Moreover, Sedat Peker, a Turkish nationalist who doesn’t hide his ties with the authorities – but first and foremost a criminal leader who has served ridiculous sentences for being at the top of a criminal organisation – has announced that “[he and his own] will shower under the blood of [the academics who signed the peace call]”.

Today, as we are all affected by what happened in Istanbul, we must strongly denounce these atrocities, all of them. Therefore, European leaders must react firmly to terrorism, express their solidarity with the Turkish citizens as well as the families which have been hit by terrorist attacks and act, join forces to put an end to this evil of the 21st century. This being said, they must also be firm with their allies and intransigent when the latter commit acts which are completely unworthy of a democracy, against the rule of law and the values defended by the European Union, fundamental prerequisites to the status of candidate country.

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[1As academics and researchers of this country, we will not be a party to this crime!

The Turkish state has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighbourhoods 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.

For international support, please send your signature, name of your university and your title to info@barisicinakademisyenler.net