Turkey’s president lambasted members of the academic community, including teachers and professors, who called for an end to the violence in the Kurdish southeast.
After repressing and imprisoning academics who sought an end to the ongoing violence in the southeastern region of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a vocal broadside against them in a speech to hundreds of regional mukhtars at his palace residence on Wednesday.
Erdogan accused academics of offering vocal political support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) over a period of many years. Castigating the academics verbally as ‘intelligentsia,’ the leader accused them of being immoral because they publicly labeled his so-called security operation against Kurds as a ‘massacre.’
“For years, they had been making propaganda for the separatist terrorist organization in an indirect way. This time, with this statement they signed, they did it openly,” Erdogan said.
The politically embattled president stated that politicians and intellectuals expressing opposition to his government for its brutal actions against the Kurds were ‘heartless and despicable people.’
“Let me say this clearly: I abhor this mentality that gives academic or political fatwa (decree) to the terrorist organization to attack public officials while merely saying ‘they should not do it’ in response to the killing of civilians,” Erdogan exclaimed.
Last week, Turkish authorities detained 18 academics after over 1,400 scholars from 89 universities signed a petition urging the government to “stop the massacre and deportation” of Kurds in the southeast of the country. The arrested teachers were accused of ‘terrorist propaganda,’ in a move which human rights groups and intellectuals around the world quickly condemned.