The peripheries of the world are not only those where poverty reigns, neither the stories are only about massacres. There are other stories, where violence is more subtle, “preventive” in some way. It eliminates people, in its own way, as a bullet: it removes those who are not welcome and frightens those who stay. Hit one to educate one hundred, they used to say back in times.
Pinar Cetinkaya is a student like many others. She is her first year at the Adnan Menderes University in Aydin and lives in a student house together with other girls. Abita in the Turkish city of Aydin, but comes from Hakkari; she is Kurdish and speaks with her parents in her language, because they do not know Turkish. Therefore, one evening she was on the phone with them and she noticed that her roommates were watching her in a strange way. “They looked at me as I were a terrorist, because I was speaking in Kurdish with my family,” said Pinar to local newspapers. “How can we be sure that you are not a terrorist?” – her roommates would have told her.
Three of her roommates filed a complaint against Cetinkaya, along with the hostel’s managers, accusing her of “terrorist propaganda.” Transference does not belong to the past.
Pinar was expelled from the dormitory and was taken to the police station for interrogation. What is more, she lost part of the scholarship she had been given to attend the University.
According to the young woman, what happened to her is authentic racial discrimination. “I cannot make any further comments – she told reporters -, everything happened because of what two people had said, and my version of the facts was not taken into account. They played with my life and my future,” she has concluded. Three days after the interrogation, she tried to go back to the dormitory to collect her things, but they did not let her in out of fear that she might have been wearing an explosive vest.
A month ago, there had been another case of a student accused of terrorism. It was Gizem Yerik, a 23-year-old student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bursa who was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison for having posted on her Facebook page messages in support of the Kurdish cause. Thus, they charged her with terrorist propaganda and defamation against the President of the Republic. Her friends and colleagues defended her, publishing a petition on Change.org to ask for her release.
In fact, the world of universities, information, and culture is under attack. A few months ago, over one thousand academics from around the world (one of whom was Noam Chomsky) signed a document asking the government to put an end to the so-called “security operations” in the Turkish Kurdistan; thus, Turkish professors have been accused of terrorist propaganda.
A month ago also an English professor, Chris Stephenson, who has lived for 25 years in Turkey and teaches at a university in Istanbul, has been accused of terrorist propaganda. His crime: to have in your bag of invitations for Newroz, the Kurdish New Year. “I do not support terrorism, are in favor of a peaceful solution to the conflict,” he said, adding that the calls came from the pro-Kurdish HDP party.
The history of Pinar happened in the same week that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that some universities are hotbeds of terrorism in Turkey. Certainly a slap to the culture, but also a way to stifle the thought? One question that remains open like a wound.
A month ago, also a British professor, Chris Stephenson, who has been living in Turkey for 25 years now and works as a professor at a university in Istanbul, has been charged with terrorist propaganda. His crime: there were invitations for Newroz, the Kurdish New Year, in his bag. “I do not support terrorism, I am in favor of a peaceful solution to the conflict,” – he said, adding that the calls came from the pro-Kurdish HDP party.
Pinar’s story happened the same week when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that some universities are hotbeds of terrorism in Turkey. Without doubt, this is a slap in the face of culture, but is it also a way to stifle thinking? This question remains open like a wound.