More than 1,000 academics from Turkish universities late on Monday issued a statement condemning a Constitutional Court ruling that held their colleagues’ rights had been violated after signing a peace petition in 2016, Turkish media outlets reported.
“To give statements blaming the government for conducting anti-terror operations would never be considered an act of freedom of expression in any country in the world,” the statement reads.
Hundreds of academics in 2016 had signed a petition calling on the Turkish government to stop military operations that caused civilian deaths and partial destruction of residential areas in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region.
After brief peace talks in 2015 with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group, the Turkish government halted the negotiations and launched military operations in the region.
The PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, the European Union and the United States, has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state for decades.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the peace petition, labeling it support for terrorism.
Many of the backers of the petition have been dismissed from their positions, sentenced to prison or face an overseas travel ban.
Turkey’s top court on Friday said rights of the nine academics who applied for an appeal were violated during these prosecutions.
The pro-Erdoğan media immediately condemned the top court’s decision.
At least three academics whose name appeared on the statement backing the government said on social media that their did not give consent to the statement.