Academics Esra Mungan, Kıvanç Ersoy, and Muzaffer Kaya have been arrested on grounds of supporting terror having made a declaration denouncing military action in Turkey’s southeast. The petition, signed by more than 1,200 university staff, including American philosopher Noam Chomsky, has been at the centre of Turkey’s efforts to stifle criticism from academic circles.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has personally made a series of statements criticising the signatories, an action that observers believe will only fan the flames while further prejudicing state media and the judiciary.
Thousands of scholars throughout Turkey and worldwide signed the statement, which calls for a cessation to violence – with many tends of thousands more supporting the movement on social media with the hashtag #HocamaDokunma.
The new arrests are believed to have come as the university staff in question refused to acquiesce to police demands that they avoid making any further public statements on the matter.
Press, academia and celebrities silenced
Turkey has tightened its grip on the political opposition, independent media, most recently including broadcaster IMC TV, the Zaman newspaper and even celebrities who dared to broach the topic of peace negotiations or otherwise question state policy in recent months. President Erdoğan has stated that any form of opposition can now be treated as terror speech, as Turkey, for decades been seen as a role-model democracy for Middle-Eastern states, slips towards a more authoritarian form of rule.