By Jon Cogburn
If you haven't heard about the gross persecution of Turkish academics who support reconciliation with Turkey's Kurdish minority, please a least read the links provided below.
My friends in Turkey (some of them staring down the barrel of a loaded gun) have assured me that the simple act of affixing your signature to something really can save lives in situations like this. Below are three things that one can do that each take less than five minutes. For philosophy type people who read this blog, I can't name names here because it would further endanger people, but realize that these are our colleagues and teachers facing imprisonment and orchestrated vigilante and mob injustice, and that they face these things because they support peace.
Open Letter of Support for Academics under Attack in Turkey
To sign this statement, email your title, name, and institutional affiliation to academicsUS@gmail.com .
You can just put "petition" in the title and begin the e-mail with "Please add my name to the petition in support of Turkish academics" before putting your info below that.
On Behalf of Kurdish Civilians in Turkey
This petition is addressed to the White House. Robert Hockett and Anna-Sara Malmgren originated it and Chomsky, Butler, and Joshua Cohen have already signed it.
Letter Macro Concerning Persecuted Academics:
This is addressed to Joe Biden, since he is traveling to Turkey in the next few days. Please sent it or something like it to the White House at https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact#more You can also find your congresspeople and how to contact them at https://www.contactingthecongress.org/ .
Dear Vice President Joe Biden,
You may have heard of the recent news of the crackdown on Turkish academics who signed a petition urging their government to try to resume peace-talks with the PKK in the Southeast of Turkey. (See, for example, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/01/turkey-witch-hunt-against-academics.html# ) . I write to you in order to urge you, during your upcoming visit, to pressure President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu to respect freedom of expression, human rights, and the rule of law.
Since the petition was announced, Erdogan has called the signatories 'traitors', 'despicable', and supporters of the PKK, an acknowledged terrorist organization. Of course, the signatories did nothing of the kind, but merely urged the government to resume the peace process and pointed out widely reported human rights violations.
Following the lead of Erdogan, University administrators have been tripping over themselves trying to punish the academics (see https://bianet.org/english/human-rights/171121-investigation-against-academics-in-istanbul-desiring-peace). Around 20 academics were detained for a day and then released, but it appears that legal proceedings may go ahead against all 1128 of the signatories, which could result in 1-5 years in prison. Their various supposed crimes are distributing terrorist propaganda, 'insulting Turkishness', and more. They did nothing of the kind. After the petition was signed notorious criminal and AKP supporter (he has given speeches at AKP rallies) Sedat Perker announced “We will let your blood in streams and we will take a shower in your blood." Perker was not admonished by Erdogan, Davutolgu, or any public member of the AKP. Doors of academics were marked with red X's and signs were put up 'a traitor lies within'. Two signatories were also attacked with knives and chased out of town.
We are deeply worried about the fate of these signatories and the possible descent of Turkey into a Putin style authoritarian regime. Turkey is a strategic ally of our nation, but I urge you to not let our need of Turkey for our interests in the international arena keep you from pressuring Turkey to uphold the values it says it does, and the values that our great nation holds dear.