Turkey Releases Detained Academics

bidiriThe Turkish authorities briefly detained 27 scholars on Friday, accusing them of spreading “terrorism propaganda” and of insulting the state after they signed a petition denouncing the military’s campaign against Kurdish militants in southeastern Turkey.

Most of the scholars were from Kocaeli University in northwestern Turkey and were detained in early-morning raids on their homes,By Friday evening, all had been released.

All 27 scholars were among more than 1,000 academics from 90 Turkish universities who signed a public statement, “We Won’t Be a Party to This Crime,” that urged the government in Ankara, the capital, to end the “deliberate massacre” of Kurds caught in clashes between Turkish security forces and militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK

The petition angered President Tayyip Erdoğan, who denounced the group and foreign scholars who signed the document, including the linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky in a televised speech on Tuesday. President Erdoğan accused them of “treason” and of forming a “fifth column” of foreign powers trying to undermine Turkey’s national security.

“Unfortunately, these so-called academics claim that the state is carrying out a massacre,”Mr Erdogan said in his speech, which came shortly after a suicide bombing that killed 10 German tourists in the historic heart of Istanbul, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility. “Hey, you so-called intellectuals: You are dark people. You are not intellectuals.”

President Erdogan called on Mr. Chomsky and other scholars to visit southeastern Turkey to get a “true picture” of the events taking place there.

“They should see with their eyes whether the problem is a violation by the state or the hijacking of our citizens’ rights and freedoms by the terrorist organization,” he said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. On Thursday, the government formally began an investigation of the scholars.