Another Academic Faces Prison In Turkey, This Time For A Test Question About Öcalan

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Resat Baris Unlu
Resat Baris Unlu

Three weeks ago, we featured an article describing the plight of dozens of academics who faced arrest after signing a peace petition. These advocates were declared enemies of the Republic of Turkey. Now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government will put on trial a Turkish professor who placed onto an exam questions referencing PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Ankara University professor Resat Baris Unlu faces charges for spreading “terrorist propaganda” after presenting his students a question comparing two documents written by the founder of the proscribed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who is currently serving a life sentence.


the examination asked students to compare “compare Abdullah Öcalan’s 1978 manifesto entitled ‘The Path of the Kurdistan Revolution’ and an article he wrote in 2012 called ‘Democratic Modernity as the Construction of Local Systems in the Middle East’”. That apparently it was enough to summon the attention of Ankara prosecutors who decided that the professor’s designs were to “legitimize Öcalan’s opinions and impress upon his students the idea that he was a political leader.”

Although the Dean of the faculty attempted to explain and defend the matter as academic freedom, the prosecutor summoned professor Unlu to court and recommended the court impose a sentence of seven years imprisonment.

Abdullah Öcalan
Abdullah Öcalan

I fail to see how educating students about relevant history and political sciences amounts to inciting terrorism, but in the increasingly bizarre world of the Turkish State, who’s head anything incidentally believes facts such that Muslims discovered the Americas, perhaps anything is possible.

As we have seen with other cases the actions of the Turkish government are not just limited to academics, demonstrators and bloggers, in January prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into a television talk show the government accused the medium of spreading “terrorist propaganda” after a caller telephoned into raise concerns about the human cost of military campaigns against Kurdish rebels in eastern Turkey.

Each time I read news articles describing the increasingly quick pace the descent into authoritarianism brought forth with President Erdoğan’s grip on power has become, I view it as such a great disappointment. I visited the nation 17 years ago. Turkey has a rich culture with many vibrant ethnic groups, traditions, and good people who wish nothing more than to go about their lives without interference or oppression by government. Turkey’s president makes war with his own people and unapologetically attacks any Turkish citizen who has the courage to speak his mind, no matter how innocuous that speech may be.

ottoman-warriors-erdogan-abbasI sometimes lament that Turkey’s president perceives himself to be a modern-day incarnation of an Ottoman Sultan–with the Turkish people as his subjects.

Turkey at one time was a model for secularism and tolerance in a region historically plagued with strife and conflict. As long as president Erdoğan remains in power I see very little chance for any tangible improvement.

By Darren Smith

Source: EKurd Daily

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

14 thoughts on “Another Academic Faces Prison In Turkey, This Time For A Test Question About Öcalan”

  1. testing 1, 2, 3. Just seeing if I can leave a comment. Wanted to ad a pic to my wordpress acct and am unable to login. Tried password reset and I get nothing in my email; junk, spam or otherwise.

  2. Darren Smith “I fail to see how educating students about relevant history and political sciences amounts to inciting terrorism, ”

    Terrorism is in the eye of the beholder.

  3. Well, a dictator must keep his citizens uneducated and unquestioning for self preservation. It’s sad that it’s becoming more extreme. Istanbul used to be rather cosmopolitan. I’m guessing we won’t see an admission of the Armenian genocide anytime soon.

  4. At least Turkey is making the decision about admitting it to the EU a lot easier now. This should sink ANY hope of joining.

  5. We need to have a Turkey Day here on the blog. I am not saying that Turkey needs democracy or that the dictator is too dictatorial. He may be a dickhead but places like Turkey need to keep a lid on the various terrorist groups, sects, religions. The Kurds need to be a separate territory from Turkey. I would call it Kurdland not Kurdistan. There are too many Stan territories. I do not mean Kroenke.

  6. Shouldn’t our NATO allies at least pretend to oppose authoritarian government? Perhaps OUR beacon is sending out the wrong message.

  7. When a country that straddles the advanced Western World and the regressive Middle East, goes toward the dark side, it is a big red flag. Dictators like this smell weakness. Obama projects weakness. We need to project strength. My fear is the person who replaces Obama overdoes it.

  8. The only kind of turkey that’s safe is the kind that comes with a side of dressing and some cranberry sauce. If you really want to be safe, cook the dressing outside of the cavity, not in it. 🙂

  9. Well it is VERY clear YOU had better not visit Turkey again since you will be facing charges. I was stationed there for a couple of years, and while it was a military dictatorship, it was not as bad as it is now seems to be.

Comments are closed.