01/20/2016, 16.52
TURKEY
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Erdogan still hunting intellectuals and dissidents; for opposition, he is a “tinpot dictator”

Under investigation for defamation, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu attacks the president, calling him a caricature of Hitler and Pinochet. Ankara continues its iron fist against academics and intellectuals. A new investigation is launched against 21 academics from Kocaeli University, 12 of whom are already under arrest for signing a declaration calling for renewed dialogue with the Kurds.

Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People's Party, launched a new, harsh attack against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing him of being "a tinpot dictator."

Despite Erdogan’s lawsuit, Kılıçdaroğlu, who heads Turkey’s main opposition party, has accused the president of embezzlement and has compared him to past dictators like Augusto Pinochet and Adolf Hitler.

Yesterday in a speech before party MPs, he said  that he has called Erdogan a "dictator" in the past, and yet Erdogan he didn’t react. "Obviously,” he added with a touch irony, “what irritates him is that he is a caricature, not the fact that he is a dictator."

Meanwhile, Turkish authorities and Erdogan continue their witchhunt against internal dissidents and movements demanding greater democratic protection and safeguards.

Recently, 21 scholars and academics from Kocaeli University came under investigation for signing a declaration titled “We will not be a party to this crime”. Twelve of them have already been arrested and jailed.

According to local sources, the academics were charged with overtly insulting the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the judicial organs of the state as well as engaging in propaganda for a terrorist organisation.

Likewise, Kocaeli University Senate announced that the rector has started an investigation against the academics for supporting terror.

The petition led by Academics for Peace, which calls on the Turkish government to end the violence and prepare the conditions for the negotiations, was signed by 1,128 academics and researchers from 89 universities.

More than 500 journalists have also expressed their support, including Can Dündar and Erdem Gül who have been in prison since November on charges of espionage and disclosing state secrets.

However, in many cases, university and colleges have disassociated themselves from such initaitives, calling instead for punitive measures against dissident intellectuals.

For his part, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the academics “crappy so-called intellectuals” and “traitors” engaged in propaganda favour of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party.

In the past few months, Ankara has been carrying out an “anti-terror" campaign, aimed at the Kurdish minority (and its political arm, the PKK), which it accuses of treason and threatening the country’s national integrity in order to create an independent state in south-eastern Turkey.

Conversely, analysts and experts accuse Erdogan and his AKP party of complicity with the caliphal militia, i.e. the Islamic State group, because it has allowed the group to smuggle weapons, recruits, and oil through its borders. 

Turkish air strikes in Syria and Iraq have in fact been aimed more at PKK hideouts than IS targets. Military operations have an additional goal, to prevent the unification of Kurdish areas in Syria, Iraq and eastern Turkey, which could lead to the emergence of a Kurdish state.

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