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Turkey detains dozens of academics over pro-Kurdish petition Open in fullscreen

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Turkey detains dozens of academics over pro-Kurdish petition

Turkey is waging an all-out offensive against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 January, 2016

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Turkish police arrested dozens of academics who denounced military operations against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey, with the move deepening concerns about freedom of expression under President Erdogan's rule.

Turkish police detained around 21 academics from the University of Kocaeli, near Istanbul, in an early morning raid on their homes for "terror propaganda".

The Friday arrests follow a petition signed by the academics denouncing military operations against Kurdish rebels in the southeast that was severely criticised by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Prosecutors launched a vast investigation into over 1,200 academics from 90 Turkish universities for "insulting the state" and engaging in "terrorist propaganda" by signing the declaration.

Entitled "We won't be a party to this crime", the petition urged Ankara to halt "its deliberate massacres and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region".

Erdogan on Thursday accused the signatories, which also included US linguist Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, of "treason" and being the "fifth columns" of foreign powers bent on undermining Turkey's national security.

"You are people in the dark. You are not intellectuals," he said. "All you want is to stir this country up."

Turkey is waging an all-out offensive against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), with military operations backed by curfews aimed at flushing out rebels from several southeastern urban centres.

Kurdish activists say dozens of civilians have died as a result of excessive force.

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