A new attack on the freedom of expression is currently underway these past few hours in Turkey. Numerous academics, who signed a petition on 10 January 2016 appealing for, among other things, the Turkish government to resume the peace process in Turkey, are currently the subjects of judiciary procedures by State prosecutors. The High Education Council – the board of many Turkish Universities – also announced further investigations, thus raising concerns and fears of dismissal.
Around 30 of the signatories were accused of "terrorist propaganda", temporarily detained and subsequently interrogated. Although now released by the authorities, the academics are still the focus of ongoing procedures.
Over 1200 "Academics for Peace" belonging to 90 different Turkish universities were also joined by foreign colleagues, writers and students. Among the signatories was Ahmet Atil Asici (İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi), international secretary of our Turkish member party, the Green "Yesiller ve Sol Gelecek Partisi". The current situation of intimidation and the surprising and increasing authoritarian attitude of the current government remind us of times we believed were consigned to the past. Commenting on the situation, Monica Frassoni, Co-chair of the European Green Party said: "We all considered freedom of expression and the possibility of a public and open debate as an established reality in Turkey; today, it is quickly becoming a risky business for citizens".
The academics stated that they won't be "a party to this crime", referring to the military operations in the southeast and asked the Turkish State 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". The Greens are concerned about the increasing escalation of violence in Turkey which is costing the loss of many lives. We find the intimidating attitude the Turkish government is showing towards civil society very worrying and we call on both parties to resume peace talks and to begin substantial investigations on the attacks, and the threats and the intimidations being carried out through the judiciary system.
"The European Union should play a much more active role in facilitating a new ceasefire. It is an illusion to believe that Turkey can be a reliable partner in dealing with the refugees to acceptable standard if it is not able to stand and listen the voices of its own people", Co-chair Monica Frassoni added. Turkey is an EU candidate country and the nature of Turkish democracy is an issue that the EU cannot shut its eyes on anymore. The dangerously shrinking spaces devoted to the freedom of expression and democratic opposition ought to be restored, while healing the painful fractures Turkish society is currently enduring.