November 9, 2018
Turkish police detained academic Dr. Cenk Yiğiter on Friday and are reportedly holding him at the counterterrorism branch of the Ankara Police Department.
Yiğiter was one of more than 2,000 academics across Turkey who signed a petition titled “We will not be a party to this crime” in January 2016, calling for a peaceful solution to the military conflict between the Turkish security forces and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In the petition the signatories said they condemned the violence against the Kurds and the Turkish government’s ongoing violation of its own laws and international treaties.
The academics then faced pressure and legal action upon an instruction by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who called them “traitors” and “so-called intellectuals.” Dozens of those who undersigned the declaration were dismissed from their jobs or detained by counterterrorism police, while their offices were also raided by the police for “evidence of links to terrorism.”
Yiğiter was sentenced on Oct. 5, 2018, by a Turkish court to one year, five months in prison for allegedly insulting President Erdoğan in a social media post that did not mention him by name.
Although Turkish courts usually suspend sentences for the scores of people convicted of insulting Erdoğan in a first-time offense, the judges, in this case, imposed a custodial sentence.
“When someone said ‘Reis’ in the past, I used to think of Chief Temel,” Yiğiter said on Twitter, referring to the cartoon character Popeye, who is known as Chief Temel in Turkey. “Reis,” meaning chief, is a term that has come to refer to Erdoğan, who has run Turkey for the last 15 years. “Now, I think of an idiot,” Yiğiter said.
Yiğiter, who was dismissed from the Ankara University law faculty under a state of emergency decree-law, has also not been allowed to study at the communications faculty of the same university despite passing the entrance examination.