Turkey arrests 21 academics over pro-Kurdish petition

Published January 15th, 2016 - 11:00 GMT

Turkish police on Friday arrested 21 academics for "terror propaganda," referring to a petition denouncing Turkish military operations against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey that has drawn the ire of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AFP reported.

In an early morning raid on their homes, police arrested the academics from the University of Kocaeli, near Istanbul.

The arrests came after prosecutors launched a massive investigation into over 1,200 academics from 90 Turkish universities, on accusations of "insulting the state" and engaging in "terrorist propaganda" by signing the petition.

The petition, entitled "We won't be a party to this crime," it urged Ankara to end "its deliberate massacres and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region."

Erdogan accused the signatories - among them American linguist Noam Chomsky and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek - of "treason" and undermining Turkey's national security.

"You are people in the dark. You are not intellectuals!" Erdogan said. "All you want is to stir this country up."

Turkey has been waging an intense assault against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), imposing curfews aimed at expelling rebels from several southeastern cities.

Critics and Kurdish activists say dozens of civilians have been killed as a result of Turkey's military operations.

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