By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
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.
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.
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
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