A wave of detentions of academics who signed a petition calling upon the government to end military operations in East and Southeast Anatolia has prompted the top U.S. diplomat in Turkey underlining freedom of expression, adding that criticism of a government cannot be considered “treason.”
“We are seeing reports of academics being investigated and subjected to penalties for expressing their opinions about the conflict in the southeast. While we may not agree with the opinions expressed by those academics, we are nevertheless concerned about this pressure having a chilling effect on legitimate political discourse across Turkish society regarding the sources of and solutions to the ongoing violence. In democratic societies, it is imperative that citizens have the opportunity to express their views, even controversial or unpopular ones” U.S. Ambassador John Bass said in a written statement posted on the official Twitter account of the U.S. Embassy to Turkey on Jan. 15.
“Expressions of concern about violence do not equal support for terrorism. Criticism of government does not equal treason. Turkish democracy is strong enough and resilient enough to embrace free expression of uncomfortable ideas” Bass said.