Prison Sentences Handed Down to 28 Members of Academics for Peace

Yazar / Referans: 
Front Line Defenders

From 26 October to 17 December 2018, the first hearings of more than 100 members of Academics for Peace were held, and prison sentences were handed down to 28 academics. They were all sentenced on charges of creating “terrorist propaganda” for having signed the peace petition drafted by Academics for Peace in January 2016. While 23 academics received suspended prison sentences of one year and three months and one year and six months, the sentences of five academics were not suspended and they received prison sentences of between one year and three months and two years and three months.

In the case of Prof. Dr. Gençay Gürsoy who received a two year and three month prison sentence on 11 December 2018, Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court refused to reduce his prison time on the grounds that he did not show remorse for signing the petition and behaved “improperly” during the hearings. The Court further stated that he continued to promote the petition via press interviews and on his social media account. The academic was not given the opportunity to present a statement on the press interview and his social media posts, which were recently added to his case file.

Academics for Peace is an organisation founded in November 2012 that unites more than 2,000 individuals supporting peace in the south-east of Turkey. To date, the first hearings of 429 academics have been concluded, and criminal proceedings against many others are ongoing. Sixty two academics, including the 28 mentioned above, received prison sentences, the longest being two years and three months. All sentences were suspended, except for seven cases, including the cases of Füsun Üstel and Büşra Ersanlı. Should their appeal be unsuccessful, the seven academics will be detained to begin serving their sentences.