ANKARA, Turkey (K24) - On Tuesday, Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced hundreds of Turkish, Kurdish, and international academics – among them the famous American linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky– for condemning military operations in Kurdish cities and calling for peace talks between Turkey and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"We are not in the position to seek permission [for military operations] from the so-called academics. These [people] should know their place," said Erdogan, speaking to an audience of top foreign diplomats at a meeting dubbed "Ambassadors Conference" at his Presidential Complex, in Ankara.
A PETITION FOR PEACE
Last Sunday some forty academics from across Turkish universities gathered in the capital and launched an online petition, accusing Turkey of violating "its own" domestic and international laws by imposing long-lasting, indefinite curfews in Kurdish towns and districts of Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and others.
The multi-lingual petition "We will not be a party to this crime!" has been signed so far by more than 1,100 academics and researchers, including Chomsky, American sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein, philosopher Judith Butler, and British anthropologist David Harvey, all of whom called Turkish military operations a "deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish people.”
The academics and activists also urged the Turkish government to restart peace negotiations with the PKK and "create a road map that would lead to a lasting peace which [sic] includes the demands of the Kurdish political movement." They also declared willingness to volunteer as observers in peace talks.
In response, the Turkish president labelled the signatories of the petition "rip-off intellectuals," and accused those from Turkey of treason due to the fact they are "being paid by this state."
Erdogan's angry remarks came after a suspected Islamic State (IS) attack in Istanbul's historic Sultanahmet tourist district that killed ten people, including, nine Germans, and wounding fifteen others.
"Turkey is determined in fighting terrorism and this will continue. For us Daesh [IS], PKK, and YPG [the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish People Protection Units], are all the same," he declared.
Reiterating his earlier claim that there was “No Kurdish, but a terror issue" in his country, Erdogan asked the US Ambassador in Ankara, John Bass to invite Chomsky to Turkey so he sees the situation in the Kurdish-majority region himself, and not through what he called “the eyes of the fifth column."
Erdogan said, "the terror issue" was not a question for Turkey to negotiate on.
"You are either with the [Turkish] nation and the State or with the terror organisation [PKK]," Erdogan said, in his closing remark in response to the academics' petition, representing nearly one hundred universities.
Meanwhile, Turkey's Council of Higher Education, a state institution supervising universities in Turkey, announced Tuesday on its website after Erdogan's speech that the council and rectors are investigating the petition, whose content left academia "under suspicion."
(Adnan Gerger contributed to this report from Ankara)