TUCSON, Ariz. (A.W.)—Renowned linguistics professor and political activist Noam Chomsky has called the penal case against the signatories of the “Academics for Peace” petition a “shocking miscarriage of justice, which friends of the Turkish people can only view with dismay.”
In January 2016, 1,128 academics in Turkey (and 356 international scholars) signed a peace declaration called “We will not be a party to this crime.”
Those academics, known as “Academics for Peace,” were then targeted by the Turkish government and the media for having called upon the state authorities to end the curfews and stop the human right violations in heavily Kurdish-populated provinces of Turkey.
“The wording of the indictment, throughout, makes it clear that the case is an assault against fundamental rights of free expression that should be zealously safeguarded,” Chomsky wrote in an open letter dated Dec. 4.
Signatories were prosecuted and subjected to disciplinary investigations by their universities. That persecution inspired widespread solidarity campaigns around the world, including the collection of over 2,000 signatures. Thousands of academics and academic organizations worldwide condemned the prosecutions, including the U.S.-based Human Rights Commission of the National Academy of Sciences, which published a statement signed by several Nobel Prize laureates.
“To take only one example, the signers are accused of calling on the government ‘to lift the curfew, punish those who are responsible for human rights violations, and compensate those citizens who have experienced material and psychological damage,’” Chomsky wrote. “These are entirely reasonable appeals, quite standard in free societies, and very natural and praiseworthy on the part of concerned citizens.”
Chomsky added that there is nothing in the petition that supports terrorism “in the slightest way,” and he concluded his letter by writing, “The tortured attempt of the prosecution to distort a principled appeal for peace and justice into support for terrorism should not be tolerated in a society that values freedom and basic human rights.”
Chomsky is Institute Professor (emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona.