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Second hearings of trial of seven academics who signed the declaration entitled “We Will not be a Party to This Crime” are being held.
Şahika Yüksel, Aslı Aydemir, Ayten Alkan, Ayşe Rezan Tuncay, Sezen Çilengir from İstanbul University, Zübeyde Gaye Çankaya Eksen and Nazlı Ökten Gülsoy from Galatasary University in these hearings that are held at İstanbul Courthouse 32nd Heavy Penal Court in Çağlayan.
According to the indictment prepared by Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt, the academics are being charged with "Making Propaganda for a Terrorist Organisation", based on the Article 7/2 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Act and Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Second hearing of trial of Aslı Aydemir from İstanbul University started at 10 a.m. Aydemir stood ready in the courtroom. Submitting her statement of defense in written, Aydemir made her summary of defense verbally as well.
“I feel shame and guilt of what happens in southeastern provinces”
“I am a research fellow doing post-graduate on social psychology. I will start my statement of defense by explaining why I signed the declaration. I was born in 1990 and I grew up unaware of the East. As a Turk, I grew up ignorant of the incidents in the [Southeastern] region provinces.
“Even though I’m not the perpetrator, I feel shame and guilt of what happens there. Social psychology studies feelings of shame and guilt, and building peace by enabling forgiveness between groups. The resolution process was important in terms of serving it.
Chief judge: Did you sign the second declaration?
Chief judge asked Aydemir whether she signed the second declaration dated March 10, 2016. Aydemir said that it was not a petition but a statement for the press, she didn’t go there because she didn’t know about it but if she did, she would be there.
Retired from İstanbul University, Medical Faculty, Prof. Dr. Ayşe Rezan Tuncay stood ready in the courtroom. Tuncay started her statement of defense saying that she has been practicing medicine for 40 years and she is affect by civilians being killed:
“I couldn’t have remained silent before the incidents in the Southeast due to my profession, which focuses on healing people. I signed this declaration that was prepared to contribute to the resolution and peace in the society. I believe that it should be evaluated within the scope of freedom of expression.
“I didn’t receive any order from anybody. The text doesn’t include violence in any way. As an academic and citizen, I want peace. I demand my acquittal as an academic who demands peace”.
The next hearing is on April 6, 2018 at 9:45 a.m.
Prof. Dr. Şahika Yüksel retired from İstanbul University Medical Faculty stood ready in the courtroom.
Prof. Dr. Yüksel briefly said:
“I am not making a statement of ‘defense’. I want to express what I have been going through since January 2016 as a doctor and person. War, isolation, torture damage psychological health. The best antidote is peace. Humans and animals improved in peace environment.
“I like other citizens of Turkey was a witness of these traumatic experiences every day. I could either remain silent and pretend not to see them or demand for peace. Cost of overlooking these would be dear.
“I signed this declaration as a result of long lasting curfews, widespread news reports about women, children and old people being killed”.
The next hearing is on April 6, 2018 at 10 a.m.
Sezen Çilengir from İstanbul University stood ready in the courtroom. One of the defense lawyers Ali Saydı said that only three lawyers were allowed to speak in the previous hearing and this contravenes the constitution. Saydı demanded that more than three lawyers be allowed to defend
Pointing to statutory decree No. 677, the court committee rejected the demand.
Çilengir briefly said:
“As a citizen and an academic of this country, I don’t to which focal was expected to be called on other than the political authority for perpetual peace to be maintained and needs for the civilians who suffered during this period to be met.
“In the same manner, peace has no side that involves spiral of violence.
“Such a charge runs contradict to the essence of this signature”.
Chief judge got everyone out
Lawyer Saydı reiterated his demand in the first hearing that the cases be combined. In the first hearing, the chief judge rejected this demand on the ground that “the individuals are separate and different people”. Saydı said, “Please present a lawful justification to reject this demand.
Chief Judge Ömer Günaydın said, “Are we going to write justification based on your wish?” and got Lawyer Gülşah Kaya out for “intervening in the hearing”. Following the objections raise, he saw everyone out and recessed the hearing.
The hearing resumed five minutes later.
The next hearing is on April 6, 2018 at 2 p.m.
Zübeyde Gaye Çankaya Eksen from Galatasaray University stood ready in the courtroom. Çankaya-Eksen submitted her statement of defense in written and summarized it verbally:
“Civilian casualties in the conflict zones caused deep concerns in me. Even though I got my hopes up for peace, my faith in peace diminished when the death news started to come again. I signed that petition with that concern for the deaths to come to an end.
“To me, this text was meaningful in terms of stopping the damage that would be caused by certain practices implemented to stop the conflict”.
The next hearing is on April 6, 2018 at 2:30 p.m.
Academic member Nazlı Ökten from Galatasaray University stood ready in the courtroom.
“Militaristic policies produce policies that save the day in the whole world. As social scientists, our job is to tell our opinions without fear.
“I supporting this declaration shall be considered only within the scope of freedom of expression and thought”.
The next hearing is on April 6, 2018 at 3 p.m.
Hearing of Associate professor Ayten Alkan from İstanbul University could not be held as she is abroad.
The next hearing is on April 6, 2018.
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.
On January 12, 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressing the academics said, “You so-called intellectuals are dark and ignorant”.
Following this statement, more academics signed the declaration to support the signatory academics. The figure reached 2,212 with the second wave of signatory academics.
Doors of academics were marked and threat messages were left in many universities.
As of January 15, tens of academics across Turkey were detained following house raids, discharged or prosecuted.
On March 10, 2016, a press conference was held on behalf of Academics for Peace/İstanbul group. The statement read out by Assist. Prof. Dr. Esra Mungan, Assist. Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Kaya, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kıvanç Ersoy and Assist. Prof. Dr. Meral Camcı stated that they insist on their demand for peace.
Mungan, Kaya and Ersoy were arrested on May 15, 2016. Camcı was abroad at that time and she was arrested on her return to Turkey on March 31, 2016. All four figures were charged with “propagandizing for an illegal organization”. The four academics were released on April 22, 2016.
380 academics were discharged through the statutory decrees issued in the wake of the State of Emergency. Tens of academics working at foundation universities were discharged as well. (TP/TK)
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