On December 27, 2016, Turkish authorities reportedly detained Uğur Büber, a student at Balıkesir University and a LGBTI activist, apparently in retaliation for his activism.
Mr. Büber is part of the Turkish Language and Literature Department at the Balıkesir University, located in the southern Marmara region. He was reportedly a witness of the October 10, 2015 Ankara bombing, in which two explosions killed more than 100 people and injured over 200 during a peace rally organized by left-wing groups. Mr. Büber is known for his activism on social media on LGBTI and other human rights issues.
After Mr. Büber’s final university exam on December 27, 2016, he was reportedly taken into custody by Turkish authorities. He alleges that he was questioned about his social media activities, his associations, and his distribution over Facebook of an article memorializing the 1978 massacre at Maraş in which more than 100 Alevi civilians were killed by a Turkish nationalist group. Following questioning, Mr. Büber was reportedly charged with “producing propaganda for a terrorist organization” and moved to Kepsut L Type Prison for trial. As of this report, Mr. Büber is awaiting a trial date.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and prosecution of a student apparently in retaliation for his non-violent exercise of the rights to free expression, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. Arrests aimed at limiting student expression undermine academic freedom and society generally. State officials have an obligation to comply with internationally recognized standards of free expression, due process, and fair trial.