Turkey sends academics to prison for criticism of the bloody war against Kurds

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Earlier this month, Turkey handed prison terms to eight professors and medical doctors that protested the massacres of Kurdish civilians during winter of 2015 and 2016.

The events that led to the massacre started in 2015 with the breakdown of peace negotiations between Turkish government and Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK. PKK had accused the government of siding with the Islamic State in the fight against Kurds in Syria and Iraq. This triggered Kurdish riots and a government response that escalated in the summer and fall of 2015.

In December 2015, Turkey conducted military operations in the country’s southeast. Attacks with the use of tanks and helicopters decimated Kurdish villages in the Sırnak province, killing hundreds of civilians and displacing thousands.

In January 2016, over one thousand academics, horrified by the news of mass casualties inflicted by the Turkish military on Turkish civilians, signed a petition titled, “ We Will Not Be Party To This Crime.” Most of them have since been questioned by the police and terminated from their jobs. More than 500 have been indicted and charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist group.” Their passports have been revoked to prevent them from leaving the country. To date, 63 academics that signed the petition have been sentenced to prison terms. The rest are at various stages of serial trials, awaiting verdicts from judges that follow government orders.

Sentenced on Dec. 19 to 30 months in prison is a world renowned expert on forensic science and prevention of torture, Dr. Sebhem Korur Financi. She has been a chairperson of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Istanbul and is the current president of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation. She is known for her work for the United Nations International War Crimes Tribunal on autopsies of those exhumed from mass graves in Bosnia. – READ MORE

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