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Intellectuals rally in support of sociologist Ismail Besikci after threatening message is posted on armed group's website

(BIANET/IFEX) - The following is a 25 February 2009 BIANET statement:

A group of intellectuals and academics has condemned an armed group related to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) for openly threatening sociologist Ismail Besikci on their website.

Besikci is well-known in Turkey as the Turkish academic who, because of his research on the Kurds, was forced to leave his university post and spend many years in prison, accused of spreading PKK propaganda.

A group of intellectuals and academics has now announced that an armed group affiliated with the PKK, the so-called "People's Defence Forces" (Hezen Parastina Gel, or HPG, in Kurdish), has been threatening Besikci.

Besikci's supporters condemned the threats by saying: "Those now writing critical articles and spreading threats were perhaps not even born yet when Dr. Ismail Besikci displayed a courage seldom seen in this region. He is a respectable intellectual who used insight, courage, and determination to oppose the Turkish Republic's official ideology, official history and official truths, all of which ignored, denied and denigrated the Kurdish people."

Access to the HPG's website, http://www.hpg-online.com , is banned in Turkey. The sociologist's supporters say that two articles published on the website by Adil Kurtay and Kasim Engin insult and denigrate the sociologist. But they are also concerned that one sentence in particular represents a clear threat to Besikci. The HPG claim on their site that Besicki is "overstepping the mark," a statement Besicki's supporters have interpreted as notice that the armed group is "reserving the right to punish" the sociologist.

The intellectuals and academics have signed a statement in support of Besikçi, entitled "Intellectuals Should Always Speak the Truth . . .". The statement is meant to show that Besikci is not alone, and that such actions against him are strongly condemned. The supporters described the sociologist as a symbol "for all the oppressed peoples of this country, for the honour of the exploited classes, ( . . . ) for intellectual honesty, for honourable scholarship, for freedom of thought and for criticism."

For further information on Besikci's imprisonment, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/9188

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