232 Turkish Scholars Call for International Help Facilitating Kurdish Peace Process

Supporters of the Leftist HDP party celebrating the party making it to the Turkish parliament. (Source: ROARmag)

Supporters of the Leftist HDP party celebrate making it to the Turkish parliament. (Source: ROARmag)

Over 230 Turkish scholars from several universities have released a statement calling on the international community to press for the resumption of peace talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In 2013, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan called for a ceasefire and an end to armed struggle, effectively ending a conflict which had lasted for nearly 30 years and cost the lives of up to 45,000 people. But recent developments in Turkish politics have threatened this fragile 2013 truce.

Turkey's official position towards the PKK went from working towards reconciliation to making a complete U-turn ahead of the June 7 elections that brought a pro-Kurdish party into the parliament for the first time.

Back in 2013, as Al Monitor's Zülfikar Doğan reported, Turkish president Erdogan's party, Justice and Development Party (AKP), undertook several initiatives to speed up the peace process following Öcalan's announcement.

Erdogan's government tried hard to sell the idea to the public by highlighting the supposed losses that the conflict brought to Turkey's economy, claimed them to be as high as $1.2 trillion between 1986 and 2012. They also employed the humane slogan: “Don't let the mothers cry anymore.”

But recently Ankara has found itself in the unusual position of launching an armed assault on one section of Kurdish fighters in neighbouring Syria, while also targeting ISIS, a radical group waging a brutal war against anyone and everyone in the Middle East, including Kurdish units close to Turkey's border.

Turkey had until recently remained neutral in the fight against ISIS, even facing accusations from some quarters of assisting the group in various ways with an eye on keeping a common enemy — Kurdish militants — sufficiently weak.

Although strongly opposed to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad from the outset, Turkey has seen Kurdish fighters in Syria grow bolder in the power vacuum brought on by the civil war there and fears that momentum could be growing towards an independent Kurdish state that might have designs on eastern Turkey. In this sense, ISIS was doing Ankara an unspoken favour by pinning them back.

That all changed on July 20 when 33 members of the Turkish Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) Youth Wing and the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF) were killed in an ISIS attack on the border town of Suruç. The youths — Turkish citizens mostly of Kurdish heritage — were on their way to provide aid to Kobane, the Kurdish-majority city in Northern Syria which had suffered extensive damage from the war between the Kurdish People's Protection Units and Women's Protection Units (YPG and YPJ) coalition and ISIS.

In response Turkey launched a series of attacks on ISIS targets — to the delight of its ally the United States — but soon after began targeting PKK ones, too. The situation is made even more complicated by the fact that while the US government officially considers the PKK a ‘terrorist organization’, it has been supporting the YPG, a group allied with the PKK, in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

Given that the PKK has been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS in Iraq, Turkey's targeting of PKK positions is being seen by many as counterproductive to the broader struggle against ISIS. Once criticised for adopting a passive stance towards the chaos on its southern border, Turkey is now under suspicion of using the fight against ISIS as a flimsy pretext to execute its ultimate aim: neutralising the Kurdish resistance.

It is in this context that 232 Turkish scholars have asked for the international community to put pressure on the Government of Turkey to resume peace talks with the PKK, highlighting that “the core message of the work we do will be that war budgets are compensated by our taxes and that it is the poor who lose their lives in a war.”

The statement is as follows:

Support Us ın Our Call!

Declaration to the Peoples of Turkey and the world,

Like many people in Turkey, we, as academics, were emboldened by the peace/solution process between the Turkish state and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) officially initiated in January 2013, hoping for a new era that would end the conflicts continuing for over 30 years in Turkey. We have repeatedly stated, especially in our works on Turkey’s history, economy and social relations, that the conflict has affected every aspect of Turkey, turned people into enemies, and increased inequality, discrimination and violence. We have been of the opinion that Turkey was finally going to have a chance to face its truths, democratize and heal its wounds.

We have supported every stage of the solution process between 2013 and 2015. We have stated that the creation of a Wise People’s Committee [1], the Dolmabahçe Agreement [2] and that enactment of a new law by the Parliament regarding the solution process [3] were positive measures. However, the comparative studies we have undertaken on the ongoing peace processes across the world have shown us that these are not sufficient measures and that the process needs to be supported with various monitoring committees and, as in the case of Mandela, the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan [4], one of the leading actors of the process, should be lifted. We have noted that the process should not be exploited for the purposes of foreign or domestic policies. We have also stated that deep-seated hostility against the Kurds in Turkey could only end by establishing a Truth Commission and by revealing the tragedies of the past as well as those who are responsible of them [5].

At the current state of affairs, we regret to see that that the government did not make any arrangements to guarantee the stability of the peace process, and that there are no independent civil institutions to advise and evaluate the sides so that the public can be informed and transparency can be maintained. As of today, it is unfortunate for us to witness that the process is reduced to a tool regarding inter-party competition. The policies concerning Syria, Iraq and Iran have also created an environment where the war has resumed.

It is also unfortunate that despite the warnings of academics, NGOs, responsible politicians and reporters, no steps were taken to prevent the contagious civil war in the Middle East from affecting Turkey. On the contrary Turkey is being rapidly dragged to war.

Tens of peace processes across the world have shown us that the losses are much higher when people take up arms again and that the solution comes only if new democratic spheres are opened. In the last year, we have lost our students in Kobani and Suruç. Only in this past week, we have lost many other young people to the resumed conflict between the state and PKK.

It should be well-known that we will never sacrifice our children, our students and none of our youngsters for war. For us, not a single disagreement is more important than their lives and the future they will build.

We invite all parties to a consolidated ceasefire immediately. We ask the government to abandon the language that cause discrimination, hostility and conflict; the responsible reporters to disclose their colleagues that provoke the war; and the parliament to pass laws that will guarantee the continuation of the peace process immediately.

The truth does not develop under conditions of war and today Turkey needs the truth before anything else.

We are declaring to the public: There is only one lesson that the young people can derive from our writings, statements, and lectures and it is that their lives matter and the country will not survive unless they are alive. The core message of the work we do will be that war budgets are compensated by our taxes and that it is the poor who lose their lives in a war. Our philosophy as academics is that nobody has the right to oppress and insult others. Nobody can prevent others from exercising their right to free speech. Our work is concerned with teaching young people to protect themselves from the poisonous feeling of revenge, continue to seek their rights, defend truth against lies and never be discouraged from democratic discourses and actions.

We, as 232 academics who’ve undersigned this statement, invite all academics, teachers, producers and consumers of knowledge, women and men to raise their voice and be a part of democracy and truth.

Abdullah Sessiz, Prof, Dicle University
Ahmet Altınel, Assist Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Ahmet Hilal, Prof, Çukurova University
Ahmet Özdemir Aktan, Prof, Marmara University
Ahmet Uhri, Assist Prof, Dokuz Eylül University
Ali Akay, Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Ali İhsan Ökten, Assoc Prof, Adana
Ali Kerem Saysel, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Alper Açık, Dr, Özyeğin University
Aslı Aydemir, Instructor, İstanbul University
Aslı Davas, Assoc Prof Ege University
Aslı Odman, Instructor, Mimar Sinan University
Aslı Takanay, ABD, Boğaziçi University
Atilla Güney, Prof, Mersin University
Aydın Müftüoğlu, Assist Prof, Ege University
Ayfer Bartu Candan, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Ayla Zırh Gürsoy, Prof, Marmara University
Ayşe Berkman, Prof, Marmara University
Ayşe Durakbaşa, Prof, Marmara University
Ayşe Erzan, Prof, İstanbul Teknik University
Ayşe Gözen, Prof, Ondokuz Mayıs University
Ayşe Öncü, Emeritus, Sabancı University
Ayşegül Kanbak, Assist Prof, Batman University
Ayşen Candaş, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Ayşen Uysal, Prof, Dokuz Eylül University
Ayten Alkan, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Ayten Zara, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Bahar Oral, Res Assist, Çankaya University
Başak Can, Assist Prof, Koç University
Bediz Yılmaz, Assist Prof, Mersin University
Begüm Özden Fırat, Assist Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Berivan Gökçenay, Yıldız Teknik University
Betigül Öngen, Prof, İstanbul University
Biray Kolluoğlu, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Biriz Berksony, Dr, İstanbul University
Birol Caymaz, Assoc Prof, Galatasaray University
Buket Türkmen, Assoc Prof, Galatasaray University
Burak Üzümkesici, Res Assist, İstanbul University
Burcu Yakut-Çakar, Assoc Prof, Kocaeli University
Burhanettin Kaya, Assoc Prof, Gazi University
Bülent Bilmez, Assoc Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Bülent Duru, Assoc Prof, Ankara University
Bülent Küçük, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Can Candan, Dr, Boğaziçi University
Cem Özatalay, Assoc Prof, Galatasaray University
Cenap Özel, Prof, Dokuz Eylül University
Ceren Özselçuk, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Cesim Çelik, Assist Prof, Abant İzzet Baysal University
Ceyda Arslan, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Chris Stepehnson, Instructor, İstanbul Bilgi University
Cuma Çiçer, Assist Prof, Mardin Artuklu University
Çağın Tanrıverdi, Ar. Gör, Trakya University
Çağla Aykaç, Assist Prof, Fatih University
Çiler Çilingiroğlu, Assoc Prof, Ege University
Deniz Yonucu, Dr, LSE University
Derya Özkan, Dr, Münih University
Didem Danış, Assoc Prof, Galatasaray University
Dilek Hattatoğlu, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Düzgün Çakırca, Assist Prof, Batman University
Elçin Aktoprak, Assist Prof, Ankara University
Ebru Aykut, Assist Prof. Dr, Mimar Sinan University
Elif Babül, Assist Prof, Mount Holyoke University
Elif Göcek, Assist Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Emine Meşe, Prof, Dicle University
Emrah Dönmez, Instructor, Işık University
Engin Sustam, Assist Prof, Arel University
Erdem Yörük, Assist Prof, Koç University
Ergin Bulut, Assist Prof, Koç University
Erhan Keleşoğlu, Assist Prof, İstanbul University
Ertan Yılmaz, Prof, Akdeniz University
Erol Köroğlu, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Esra Mungan, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Fatih Altuğ, Assist Prof, İstanbul Şehir University
Fatma Gök, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Ferhat Kentel, Prof, İstanbul Şehir University
Feride Aksu Tanık, Prof, Ege University
Ferruh Akay, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Feryal Saygılıgil, Assist Prof, Arel Üniveristesi
Figen Binbay, Assist Prof, Dicle University
Figen Işık, Instructor, Orta Doğu Teknik University
Fikret Uyar, Dr, Dicle University
Funda Başaran, Prof, Ankara University
Funda Şenol Cantek, Prof, Ankara University
Galip Deniz Altınay, Mersin University
Gencay Gürsoy, Prof, İstanbul University
Gökçe Topal, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Güçlü Ateşoğlu, Assist Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Gülhan Balsoy, Assist Prof, Okan University
Gülhan Türkay, Prof, İstanbul University
Gülce Sorguç, Res Assist, Ege University
Gürcan Altan, Prof, Trakya University
Güven Gürkan Öztan, Assist Prof, İstanbul University
H. Pınar Şenoğuz, Assist Prof, Gaziantep University
Hacer Ansal, Prof, Işık University
Hafize Öztürk Türkmen, Assist Prof, Akdeniz University
Hakan Gurvit, Prof, İstanbul University
Haldun Sural, Prof, Orta Doğu Teknik University
Hale Bolak Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Hejan Epözdemir, Dr, İstanbul Bilgi University
Hilal Akekmekçi, Res. Assist, İstanbul Bilgi University
Hüseyin A. Şahin, Prof, Ondokuz Mayıs University
Ilgın Erdem, Instructor, CUNY John Jay University
Işıl Ünal, Prof, Ankara University
İclal Ayşe Küçükkırca, Assist Prof, Mardin Artukulu University
İhsan Bilgin, İstanbul Bilgi University
İlkay Özkürapli, Instructor, Arel University
İnan Ünal, Instructor, Tunceli University
İrfan Açıkgöz, Prof, Dicle University
Kemal Bakır, Prof, Gaziantep University
Kemal Özay, Assist Prof, Okan University
Kıvanç Ersoy, Assoc Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Koray Çalışkan, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Kuban Altınel, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Kumru Toktamış, Assoc Prof, Pratt Institute
Kuvvet Lordoğlu, Prof, Kocaeli University
Levent Köker, Prof
Lütfiye Bozdağ, Assist Prof, İstanbul Kemerburgaz University
Mehmet Fatih Uslu, Assist Prof, İstanbul Şehir University
Mehmet Karaaslan, Prof, Işık University
Mehmet Rauf Kesici, Assist Prof, Kocaeli University
Mehmet Türkay, Prof, Marmara University
Mehmet Zencir, Prof, Pamukkale University
Melek Göregenli, Prof, Ege University
Melissa Bilal, Dr, Columbia University
Meltem Ahıska, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Meltem Gürle, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Meral Camcı, Assist Prof, İstanbul Yeni Yüzyıl University
Meral Özbek, Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Mine Gencel Bek, Prof, Ankara University
Murat Birdal, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Murat Germen, Sabancı University
Murat Koyuncu, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Murat Öztürk, Assoc Prof, Kırklareli University
Murat Paker, Assist Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Mustafa Altıntaş, Prof, Gazi University
Mustafa Kalay, Prof, Mersin University
Mustafa Peköz, Dr.
Mustafa Polat, Dr, Yeditepe University
Mustafa Sercan, Prof, Abant İzzet Baysal University
N. Gamze Toksoy, Assist Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Nazan Maksudyan, Assoc Prof, İstanbul Kemerburgaz University
Nazan Üstündağ, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Nermin Biter, Dr, Ege University
Neslihan Önenli Mungan, Prof, Adana
Neşe Yıldıran, Dr, Işık University
Nil Mutluer, Nişantaşı University
Nora Şeni, Prof.
Nur Betül Çelik, Prof, Ankara University
Nurcan Özkaplan, Prof, Işık University
Nurettin Beltekin, Assist Prof, Mardin Artuklu University
Nuri Ersoy, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Nursel Şahin, Prof, Akdeniz University
Nükhet Sirman, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Onur Hamzaoğlu, Prof, Kocaeli University
Osman Şahin, Instructor, Koç University
Ozan Değer, Res Assist, Ankara University
Öget Öktem Tanör, Prof, retired
Özen Aşut, Assoc Prof, retired
Özgün Akduran, Assist Prof, İstanbul University
Özgür Müftüoğlu, Marmara University
Özgür Mutlu Ulus Karadağ, Assist Prof, Acıbadem University
Özgür Soysal, Assist Prof, Ege University
Özlem Özkan, Assoc Prof, Kocaeli University
Pınar Kılıçer, Res Assist, Leiden University
Pınar Saip, Prof, İstanbul University
Ramazan Aşcı, Prof, Samsun
Raşit Tükel, Prof, İstanbul University
Rehber Akdoğan, Res. Assist, Dicle University
Rıdvan Şeşen, Prof, Dicle University
Ruken Alp, Dr, Sabancı University
Sami Cankat Tanrıverdi, Res Assist, İstanbul University
Sarp Balcı, Instructor, Ankara University
Savaş Çoban, Dr.
Seçkin Özsoy, Assoc Prof, Ankara University
Seda Altuğ, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Sefa Feza Arslan, Prof, Mimar Sinan University
Selçuk Ertekin Prof, Dicle University
Selim Temo, Assist Prof, Mardin Artukulu University
Sema Bayraktar, Assist Prof, İstanbul Bilgi University
Sema Erder, Prof, Marmara University, retired
Semih Bilgen, Prof, Yeditepe University
Semra Somersan, Prof.
Senem Timuroğlu, Instructor, Özyeğin University
Sevilay Çelenk, Assoc Prof, Ankara University
Şahika Yüksel, Prof, İstanbul University
Şemsa Özar, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Şule Aytaç, Dr.
Şükrü Ekin Kocabaş, Assist Prof, Koç University
T. Elvan Altan, Prof, Ortadoğu Teknik University
Taha Kahraman, Prof, Akdeniz University
Tahsin Yeşildere, Prof, İstanbul University
Tamer Demiralp, Prof, İstanbul University
Taner Gören, Prof, İstanbul University
Taner Özbenli, Prof, Ondokuz Mayıs University
Tansel Korkmaz, İstanbul Bilgi University
Teoman Pamukçu, Prof, Ortadoğu Teknik University
Tezcan Duma, Assoc Prof, Ankara University
Tuna Altınel, Assoc Prof, Claude Bernard Lyon-1 University
Tuğrul Atasoy, Prof, Bülent Ecevit University
Tülin Özdemir Johansson, Assoc Prof, Lassel Üniveristesi
Tülin Ural, Dr, Mimar Sinan University
Uğur Kara, Assist Prof, Anadolu University
Ulaş Bayraktar, Dr.
Umut Şah, Instructor, İstanbul Arel University
Ülkü Doğanay, Prof, Ankara University
Ülkü Güney, Assist Prof, Abant İzzet Baysal University
Vangelis Kechriotis, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Veli Deniz, Prof. Kocaeli University
Veli Polat, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Vildan İyigüngör, Assoc Prof, Marmara University
Yahya Madra, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Yasemin Özgün, Assoc Prof, Anadolu University
Yasin Ceylan, Prof, Ortadoğu Teknik University
Yeşim Edis Şahin, Prof, Dokuz Eylül University
Yıldıray Ozan, Prof, Ortadoğu Teknik University
Yıldız Silier, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Yılmaz Özdil, Assist Prof, Mardin Artuklu University
Yonca Hürol, Prof, Doğu Akdeniz University
Yusuf Çiftçi, Instructor, Mardin Artukulu University
Yücel Demirer, Assoc Prof, Kocaeli University
Z. Umut Türem, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Zafer Ercan, Prof, Abant İzzet Baysal University
Zafer Yenal, Prof, Boğaziçi University
Zeki Kılıçarslan, Prof, İstanbul University
Zelal Ekinci, Prof, Kocaeli University
Zergün Utku Altıntaş, Dr, Gazi University
Zerrin İren Boynudelik, Dr, İstanbul Teknik University
Zeynep Gambetti, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University
Zeynep Kadirbeyoğlu, Assist Prof, Boğaziçi University
Zerrin Kurtoğlu Şahin, Prof, Ege University
Zeynep Kıvılcım, Assoc Prof, İstanbul University
Zeynep Uysal, Assoc Prof, Boğaziçi University


[1] Wise People’s Committee (Akil İnsanlar Heyeti), which was composed of 63 members, was constituted on April 4, 2013 to explain the process to people and to report their expectations from peace.

[2] Dolmabahçe Agreement was declared on February 28th, 2015 by members of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) and People’s Democracy Party (PDP) as the framework for peace negotiations. However, after the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared his disapproval of the agreement, it was disowned by JDP.

[3] On July 15th, 2015, the Law on ending terror and strengthening of social cohesion was passed that gave legal framework to peace negotiations.

[4] Abdullah Öcalan is the leader of PKK and remains in prison since 1999.

[5] Throughout the 1990s when the war between the Turkish state and the PKK was at its peak a number of human rights violations has been committed by the state against Kurds including disappearance, extra judicial murders, displacement, rape and harassment. To this day no one has been prosecuted for these crimes although confessions of former officials who committed these crimes are abound. During 2000s, Kurds living or working in cities of Turkey have been victims of numerous hate crimes.


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