President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has strongly reacted to a petition signed by more than 1,000 local and international academics calling on the Turkish government to end the security operations being committed in southeastern Anatolia and to return to table for talks to resolve the Kurdish issue, describing the signatories as “ignorant.” After an urgent meeting on Jan. 12, the Supreme Education Board (YÖK) announced that legal action would be taken over local academics who have signed the petition.
Some 1,128 academics from 89 different universities – including foreign scholars like Noam Chomsky, David Harway 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.”
Erdoğan, in an address to Turkish ambassadors gathered for an annual conference, lashed out at the signatories and said human rights violations in the southeast were being committed by terrorists, not by the state.
“Despite all of these facts, this crowd, which calls itself academics, accuses the state through a statement. Not only this, they also invite foreigners to monitor developments. This is the mentality of colonialism,” he said. Likening today’s situation with the Turkish War of Independence, Erdoğan said the country was again facing “treason” from “so-called intellectuals.”
“Hey, you so-called intellectuals! You are not enlightened persons, you are dark. You are nothing like intellectuals. You are ignorant and dark, not even knowing about the east or the southeast. We know these places just like we know our home addresses,” he said, reiterating his position that Turkey’s problem is “not a Kurdish one, but one of terror.”
President invites Chomsky to southeast
The president also said he wanted to invite all foreign signatories to Turkey.
“Let them come to Turkey. They shouldn’t sign such declarations in vain. We are ready to tell them what is happening in the southeast from A to Z. They should see with their eyes whether the problem is the violation of the rule of law by the state or the hijacking of our citizens’ rights and freedoms by the terrorist organization [Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK],” he said.
“Let our ambassador from the United States invite Chomsky, who has made statements about Turkey’s operations against the terrorist organization. Let’s host him in the region,” Erdoğan added.
YÖK to take action
Immediately after the speech, YÖK also issued a statement on the academics’ declaration.
“The declaration issued by a group of academics that describes our state’s ongoing struggle against terror in the southeast as ‘massacre and slaughter’ has put our entire academic world under suspicion,” read the statement issued by YÖK.
“This declaration cannot be associated with academic freedom. Providing the security of citizens is the primary responsibility of the state,” it said, adding that all rectors and an inter-university council would soon meet to discuss the issue.