A Turkish academic has faced public backlash for making racial comments on social media about the Roboski Massacre, which resulted in the death of 34 Kurdish civilians, including 19 children.
Tuba Işık, a lecturer at Ağrı İbrahim Çeçen University (AİÇÜ), commented, “The image is very beautiful, may it be permanent”, on a post commemorating the 12th anniversary of the 2011 Roboski Massacre with an image depicting the funeral procession of the Kurdish victims. These remarks, widely condemned as hateful and racist, were defended by the university head, citing freedom of speech.
This incident starkly contrasts with the situation of Turkey’s Peace Academics, who have faced dismissals, trials, and imprisonment for advocating for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish conflict.
In January 2016, over 1,100 academics faced severe legal consequences for signing the “We will not be a party to this crime!” petition, which criticised the government’s militaristic approach to conflicts. Accused of “terror propaganda”, many of these academics were dismissed from their positions and subjected to lengthy legal battles.
The university head’s defence of Işık’s statement as a matter of free speech has ignited a debate about the apparent double standards in addressing expressions of hate versus calls for peace. Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party Ağrı (Agirî) MP Sırrı Sakık challenged the AİÇÜ head over Işık’s comments, questioning, “Since when have brutality, hatred, and malice become freedom of speech?”