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Dozens of Turkish teachers face prison sentences for signing a manifesto

Trials against 148 academics critical with the government were started this Tuesday in Istanbul

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Dozens of Turkish teachers face prison sentences for signing a manifesto

About 150 University professors appear before courts in Istanbul from this Tuesday accused of "propaganda of terrorist organization" for signing almost two years ago a manifesto for peace that denounced government policy in Kurdish conflict. The offence y are accused of is imprisonment of up to five years, despite human rights organizations crossing process of "violation of right to freedom of expression and academic freedom".

The manifesto, titled We will not be part of this crime, criticized war response given to resurgence of violence in south-east Kurdish and, in particular, suffering caused to civilian population during military sieges against various locations in That strong PKK militants had been made, armed group considered terrorist by Turkey, EU, and United States. The text was signed by more than 2,000 teachers without knowing that it would become his labor death sentence from moment President Recep Tayyip Erdogan entered rag, denouncing his drivers as "traitors", "PKK accomplices" and " Quintacolumnistas ". Justice took letters in matter, imputing dozens of signatories, police arrested about twenty of m and universities in which y worked opened disciplinary proceedings. Since n, a total of 463 signatories of manifesto have been expelled from centres in which y were imparted and, of m, 380 have been banned by decree law to return to practice teaching.

Only in Istanbul, 148 signatories of manifesto face trial in several views that extend from this week in mid-may of year coming in several criminal rooms of Istanbul. The processes are individual although, according to defense, indictments are a "copy and paste", tracing each or. The summaries consist of 17 pages and in m prosecution argues that manifesto was prepared following orders of PKK Dome, which in December 2015 called intellectuals of Turkey to support ir demands for autonomy. While Human Rights Watch Organization (HRW) argues that "no evidence is presented" that demonstrates nexus between appeal of armed group and Academic manifesto.

This Tuesday, hall 35 of criminal saw cases of first ten academics judged, received by court at intervals of ten minutes. Since each case was traced to one anor, defense and prosecution were limited to repeating arguments, according to local press. The lawyers asked for immediate acquittal of ir defenders, which was rejected. They refore called for at least to unify case and to judge all defendants in same process, as well as to withdraw charges on basis of anti-terrorism law and to process teachers according to Article 301 , which punishes offences against institutions of State and carries a maximum of two years in prison. But also se requests were dismissed by room. "There is nothing in manifesto that justifies such absurd imputation." Submitting to trial scholars shows Turkish Government's willingness to use criminal justice system against those who oppose it, "denounced Hugh Williamson, director of HRW for Europe and Central Asia.

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