SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: March 30, 2017

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Istanbul University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 30, 2017, police reportedly detained 37 students from İstanbul University (IU) who participated in a peaceful demonstration commemorating the 1972 Kızıldere Massacre.

March 30, 2017, marked the 45th anniversary of a military raid in which ten activists in Turkey were killed after taking British intelligence officers hostage, allegedly in an effort to stop the execution of their imprisoned colleagues. To mark this anniversary, a group of students from IU’s Federation of Opinion Club (FKF) reportedly held signs and chanted outside the Faculty of Science and Letters. Shortly after the demonstration began, plainclothes police reportedly arrived on the scene and detained 37 of the students. As of this report, it is unknown whether the students have been released or whether they will face charges.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention of students in apparent retaliation for nonviolent expressive activity — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.