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After Assoc. Prof. Ahmet Berkmen and Dr. Lecturer Doğan Çetinkaya were respectively sentenced to 2 years, 3 months and 1 year, 10 months in prison on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” for having signed the declaration “We will not be a party to this crime“, the Solidarity of İstanbul University Faculty of Political Sciences protested the prison sentences in front of İstanbul Courthouse today (February 28).
The protest was attended not only by the students of İstanbul University, but it was also supported by academics and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu.
Assoc. Prof. Ahmet Tuna Altınel from Lyon-1 University and Ekin Türkay, a student from the Department of Politics and International Relations of İstanbul University, read out the statement for the press.
Altınel started his speech by commemorating Dr. Mehmet Fatih, who committed suicide after he was discharged from the Çukurova University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences two years ago, and Prof. Dr. Eren Deniz Tol, an Academic for Peace who died of cancer.
“Prison terms irrationally different from each other”
Underlining that 136 academics have been sentenced to prison so far for having signed the peace declaration, Altınel stated that “the durations of prison sentences deemed proper for academics who expressed the same demand for peace in the same words and are tried by the same indictment, are irrationally and unlawfully different from each other.”
Altınel said, “While this period is 15 months for many of our friends, some friends of ours, whose sentences were not deferred, have been given prison sentences of up to 3 years. In the face of such verdicts announced with statements such as ‘We gave 2 years, increased it to 3 years and didn’t reverse it’, we still say the same thing: Request for peace cannot be tried.”
“Our words do not end here”
Speaking after Assoc. Prof. Altınel, Ekin Türkay referred to the 28 academics who were sentenced to a total of 59 years, 2 months and 5 days in prison last week and said, “Don’t think that we have run out of words; on the contrary, we have just started to express ourselves.”
Türkay made the following remarks in her speech:
“As we find it worrying more often than not, we could be discussing the lecturers who have come to, who have been appointed to replace our discharged lecturers and who act as if they were the ideologues of the political power; we could be discussing the situation of the academia which has become mediocre or worse than mediocre in a very different way today. It didn’t happen. The current atmosphere might look darker and more hopeless than it has ever been before, but our words do not end here.
“Does the current regime really think that it could destroy the emotional and mental bond established between the lecturers and students by drawing them away from the university? Does it really think that we have finally come to heel after it has filled the universities with lecturers, whom it appointed with raising students that will comply with the culture of submission?
“Or, does it think that we or our lecturers have been intimidated by the prison sentences given to them? If it is the case, then, shame on them; the climate of fear that they are trying to create will only help them hide their own weaknesses, we continue our struggle inside and outside the university.
“Just as we were behind the words of our lecturers yesterday, we are still behind their words today. These trials and sentences do not show us that they are guilty, but that they are honorable people who keep on defending the truth even in the periods of darkness.
“These trials and sentences make us feel more proud of them as our lecturers, because they have not kneeled or bended down. The last word of ours is also peace for now and our last word will not end until we bring peace and justice to this geography.” (HA/SD)