Turkeys Arrest of 12 University Academics & It’s Dubious Human Rights Violations against the Kurds

Turkeys Arrest of 12 University Academics
Turkeys Arrest of 12 University Academics

Turkeys Arrest of 12 University Academics& It’s Dubious Human Rights Violations against the Kurds: by Donovan Reynolds Independent Writer

Turkeys Arrest of 12 University Academics
Turkeys Arrest of 12 University Academics

Yet another busy week on the international scene:  Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) killed 28 people and a further 56 were injured in Burkina Faso after Islamist militants attacked a hotel in the capital of Ouagadougou, frequented by foreigners. Then there was pleasing news that Jason Rezaian, an American Journalist employed by the Washington Post, and four other Americans were released by Iranian authorities in a prisoner swap. Rezian was arrested in July 2014 on alleged charges of espionage. On the 14th of January a major shopping and business district in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, close to foreign embassies and the United Nations offices, was bombed by terrorists; two civilians and five of the attackers were killed. The week ended with a good item of news on Saturday with the US and the EU announcing the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.

This week’s blog focuses on the current situation in Turkey where its President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has ordered the detention of twelve academics over allegations of involvement in “terror propaganda”. These academics, together with 1,400 others, signed a petition calling for the end of a massacre and deportation of Kurdish people. Two academics of international notoriety, American Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, had been severely criticised by the Turkish President. He accused them of not paying attention to the true picture in Turkey   and labelling them as ignorant terrorist sympathisers. The war of words ratcheted up this week when the UK Guardian quoted that Chomsky accused Erdoğan of operating double standards on terrorism.
The arrests prompted a flurry of reactions from Rights organisations who accused the Turkish President of violating academic freedom by rounding up innocent university teachers.  They were concerned about the welfare of these academics that did not deserve to be incarcerated on the basis of assisting the Kurds to assert their human rights. Among them is Amnesty international asserting that the current military campaign against the Kurds, conducted by the Turkish government, involves a breaching international law. These Rights organisations also accuses Turkey of targeting staff from 90 Turkish universities (calling themselves “Academicians for Peace”) who signed the petition last week calling for an end to the acts of state oppression against the Kurds.
 Further pressure was brought to bear on the Turkish President on Wednesday when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov opportunistically announced that he is set to hold talks with the co-chairman of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas on the matter. There were further developments on Friday, reported by local media, when Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also chided President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for ordering arrests of dissident academics.  With such pressure mounting we expect the UN to at least make a statement shortly on the matter.
The Kurdish people’s quest for an independent state and self-rule can be traced back to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. During that period the Allies contrived to split Kurdistan (as detailed in the ultimately unratified Treaty of Sèvres) among several countries, including Kurdistan, Armenia and others. However, the recapture of these areas by the forces of Kemal Atatürk (and other pressing issues) caused the Allies to accept the renegotiated Treaty of Lausanne and the borders of the modern Republic of Turkey, leaving the Kurds without a self-ruled region.
Turkey’s human rights record against the Kurds has unremittingly attracted scrutiny, both internally and from external Rights organisations. Furthermore, its close association with the US, NATO and the European Union has been criticised by international commentators. It is open secret that Turkey has exploited its strategic relationship with the west by flouting human rights openly against the Kurds. This history of abuse against the Kurds has been well catalogued by the European Courts of Human Rights (ECtHR). We know for example that the ECtHR in 2005 awarded Kurdish deputy Leyla Zana 9000 € from the Turkish government for a landmark Human Rights breach. The court ruled that Turkey had violated her rights of free expression. Zana, who had been recognized as prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and had been awarded the Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament, was jailed in 1994, allegedly for being a member of the outlawed Kurdish based PKK. The court found that she was treated high-handedly by the Turkish court for having spoken Kurdish in public during her parliamentary oath.
In their quest for an independent state the Kurdish people have endured a long history of oppression; in the last century they have fought the Ottomans, the British, and the Baathists. Apart from the Jewish Holocaust and the enslavement of Africans in the Caribbean and North America, I would suggest that no other group of people in the world has endured pain and suffering like the Kurds.  They are sandwiched between four countries in a large Geographic area spawning eastern and south eastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), Northern Syria (Western Kurdistan), Northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan) and North Western Iran (Eastern Kurdistan). According to CIA Fact book, Kurds formed approximately 18% of the population in Turkey (14 million) in 2008. One Western source estimates that up to 25% of the Turkish population is Kurdish (approximately 18-19 million). Kurds constitute approximately 17% of Iraq’s population and 7-10 %of Iran’s overall population (6.5–7.9 million).
The Kurds are not without natural resources in the region that they occupy and as a result attracted the attention of resource grabbing developed countries and multinational Corporations. Prominent companies active in Kurdistan include Exxon, Total, Chevron, Talisman Energy, Genel Energy, Hunt Oil, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and Marathon Oil. As you may well imagine, these large multinational corporations are not in the business of liberating people – their main aim is to extract profits and forming strategic business alliances.
Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations (1945) the model of government is a parliamentary representative democracy. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, the country has developed a strong tradition of secularism. Human rights in Turkey have been the subject of some controversy and international condemnation. Between 1998 and 2008 the European Court of Human Rights made more than 1,600 judgements against Turkey for human rights violations, particularly regarding the right to life, and freedom from torture. Other issues, such as Kurdish rights, women’s rights, and press freedom, have also attracted disagreement from the international community and rights based organisations.
 Turkey’s human rights record continues to be a significant obstacle to future membership of the EU,  yet the country is one of the most important allies to the US and the European Union based on its geo-political interest and the war on terrorism. In recent time there has been a falling out of relations between Turkey and the Russia. On Monday 25th November 2015 Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border, alleging that Russia had violated its airspace. Since then there has been a showering of relations with Turkey and as a result the Russian Government, through its associated news network has accused Turkey of secretly buying gas from ISIL and leaving its borders to Syria pours for ISIL to recruit foreign fighters and conduct Terrorist Training camp in Turkey.
This week the English Based version of Russian Television (RT) reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is planning a meeting with the co-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas , according to sources in the Foreign Ministry. We at Kingston Mouth view this as a sinister move, mainly because of the souring relations recently with Russia and Turkey. Russia’s attempt to woo the Kurds is indeed opportunistic as they are on opposite sides of the proxy war in Syria. Meanwhile, it is not expected that President Obama or the European Union to castigate the Turkish President over Human Rights breaches, as Turkey is a major air base from which the US and its allies launch attack on ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Many Rights group in Europe have chided the EU for agreeing to fund the Turkish Government to the tune of 2 billion EU dollars to manage and house the flood of refugees fleeing war in the region. The Kurdish issue aside, it is fair to suggest that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule in Turkey is rapidly becoming an embarrassment to the West and NATO, and Turkey’s international credibility  and record on human rights is diminishing. It seem as if the Turkish President is hell bent on becoming the “two faced Janus” of the Middle East. Nevertheless, he is an untouchable based on the Geo Strategic location in that region and his powerful allies on the UN Security Council have to treat his friendship cautiously.
Surely, the present approach to the Kurds and the Academic Sympathisers has gone the wrong way and it is now time for the UN to send a special envoy to that country to resolve the very complex issues involved in that dispute. A failure to act quickly can only lead to the “Putinisation” of Turkey and Balkanisation of the already troubled Kurdish Region. The Kurds in Iraq have a Regional Government that seems to be working although it’s not perfect. Turkeys hostility towards is Kurdish population can be less belligerent if some arrangement can be brokered. In the interim, Kingston-Mouth condemns the action of President Erdoğan. We urge release of the twelve academics and other journalists held in Turkey and a toning down of the bellicose rhetoric by all parties involved. Now that the Iran deal is more settled it would be advisable for the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, to focus his attention on events in Turkey.
This article was written by Donovan Reynolds CEO and edited by Ann Smith Managing Editor of Kingston-Mouth .com.  Donovan Reynolds is an Independent Blogger and Human Rights Activists who is of a Jamaican descent and a legal academic that has an interest in Human Rights, Culture and International Development Issues.

Donovan Reynolds is an Independent Blogger and Human Rights Activists who is of a Jamaican descent and a legal academic that has an interest in Human Rights, Culture and International Development Issues.
Donovan Reynolds CEO and edited by Ann Smith Managing Editor of Kingston-Mouth .com.
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Donovan Reynolds is an Independent Blogger and Human Rights Activists who is of a Jamaican descent and a legal academic that has an interest in Human Rights, Culture and International Development Issues. Donovan Reynolds CEO and edited by Ann Smith Managing Editor of Kingston-Mouth .com.

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