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An indictment has been issued for academics from İstanbul, Galatasaray, Boğaziçi, Mimar Sinan, Nişantaşı and Yeni Yüzyıl Universities who have signed the peace declaration "We will not be a party to this crime". The academics are being charged with "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and are facing 7,5 years in prison.
Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt has filed the indictment for the investigation carried out by İstanbul Public Chief Prosecutor's Office.
The number of academics against whom a lawsuit has been filed is not known yet as these lawsuits are being filed separately.
The Peace Declaration of the Academics "We will not be a party to this crime" was shared with the public on January 11, 2016 in a press conference. 1,128 academics from 89 universities as well as over 355 academics and researchers from abroad had signed the peace declaration.
The academics face charges under Article 7(2) of the Turkish Anti-Terror Act
Turkish Anti-Terror Act
Any person making propaganda for a terrorist organisation shall be punished with imprisonment from one to five years. If this crime is committed through means of mass media, the penalty shall be aggravated by one half. In addition, editors-in-chief (...)2
Prosecutor Bozkurt claimed in the bill of indictment, that the peace declaration was "an overt propaganda for Kurdistan Worker's Party/Kurdistan Communities Union (PKK/KCK)".
The indictment reads:
"It has been revealed, that the main purpose of the declaration is to build public support to stop military operations carried out in order to secure peace and safety of the citizens and clean the areas, where the PKK/KCK terrorist organization has declared a 'self-governance' from the terrorist. On these grounds, the Public Chief Execution has launched an investigation under "propagandizing for the terrorist organization".
Charges against solidarity declaration for arrested academics over "challenging Republic of Turkey"
Among the cited crimes in the indictment, also a solidarity declaration that was issued by the academics in order to support academics Assoc. Prof. Dr. Esra Mungan, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Meral Camcı, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Kaya and Asst. Prof. Dr. Kıvanç Ersoy who were taken into custody and were kept in detention on remand for a month for reading out the first peace declaration of the academics.
The Prosecutor's Office accused the academics supporting their colleagues behind bars of "preventing the suspects from withdrawing their signatures from the [peace] declaration and to demonstrate that they could still challenge the Republic of Turkey by insisting on the propagandizing for the terrorist organization of PKK/KCK".
Falsification in translation into English
The prosecutor has also argued in the bill of indictment, that "those who prepared the declaration, had changed some expressions in the Turkish and English on purpose and made little touches on the declarations which were submitted to foreigners to be signed.
Chris Stephenson addressed in indictment despite acquittal
The prosecutor has also addressed Bilgi University academic member Chris Stephenson from the "Academics for Peace" who was detained in İstanbul Courthouse while supporting three academics who were detained in March 2016 and were arrested for signing the peace declaration.
In the indictment, Stephenson was accused of carrying materials for "terrorist propaganda" in his bag while coming to the court on purpose and for seeking support for the defamation smearing campaign against Turkey on international community.
A lawsuit was filed against Stephenson over "terrorist propaganda" and he was acquitted in the first hearing of his trial on June 23, 2016 as the charges cited in the bill of indictment did not constitute a crime according to the law.
The materials claimed to be materials for "terrorist propaganda" were leaflets for Newroz celebrations prepared by the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). (HK/DG)
This publication has been produced within the partnership with Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso for the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), co-funded by the European Commission. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of media partner IPS Communication Foundation and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
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