On June 1, 2017, violent clashes broke out between two groups of students on Ankara University’s Cebeci campus, resulting in injuries to at least three students. Another 20 were detained by police, and the university’s communications building sustained significant damage in the clashes.
According to media sources, a group of students attempted to tear down a banner bearing the names of thirteen Turkish soldiers who had recently died in a helicopter crash in a predominantly Kurdish region of Turkey. In response, another group of students, described in media reports as nationalists who carried metal batons, confronted and reportedly chased them into the communications building. The nationalist students began chanting and taunting the other students from outside the building. The students inside eventually barricaded the doors, and the nationalist students responded by throwing stones at them. A volley of stone-throwing then ensued, resulting in at least three students injured.
Approximately half an hour after the incident began, police officers arrived on the scene to disperse the students. At least twenty students were reportedly detained.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence and the destruction of property on campus. Students have the right to freedom of expression and association; however, those rights must be exercised in a manner consistent with university values, including non-violence and social responsibility. Campus violence and the destruction of property creates unnecessary risk of injury to members of the higher education community, chills academic freedom, and undermines university autonomy.