Turkish court arrested three scholars for "making terrorist propaganda" on March 14, following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's statements that terrorism and terrorists should be "redefined" in Turkey to pave the way of widened legal action against "supporters of terrorists".
Erdoğan has referred to academics, journalists and legislators in particular, after more than one thousand academics have signed a petition denouncing military operations in Turkey's southeastern provinces. Erdoğan has harshly criticized these academics and has accused them for making terrorist propaganda. Dozens of scholars across Turkey have faced legal action.
Three academics, Esra Mungan, Muzaffer Kaya and Kıvanç Ersoy were arrested in Istanbul, after they allegedly read the peace petition during a press statement in front of an education trade sector union, Eğitim-Sen's branch.
Lawyer Meriç Eyüpoğlu explained that the decision was "political" and without legal provision.
A total of 464 investigations have been launched by public universities into academics who signed a petition calling for an end to military operations in Turkey's southeast since the controversy erupted in January.
Regarding academics at public universities there have been 464 investigations, nine firings, five resignations, 27 suspensions, 153 criminal proceedings opened, and 33 detentions. At foundation universities there have been 21 firings, one forced retirement, and 43 administrative investigations since Jan. 11.
The 1,128 academics from 89 different universities - including foreign scholars like Noam Chomsky, David Harvey and Immanuel Wallerstein - signed the petition titled “We won't be a part of this crime,” which called on Ankara to end the “massacre and slaughter” in southeastern Turkey in early January.
Universities and prosecutor's offices across the country subsequently opened probes into a number of the 1,128 local and international academics and intellectuals who fall within the Turkish state's jurisdiction, arguing that the petition went beyond the limits of academic freedoms.