On March 22, 2018, Turkish police reportedly detained at least five students from Boğaziçi University, in apparent retaliation for their participation in a campus protest.
On March 19, a group of student members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) held a stand on campus where they gave out Turkish delights and expressed support for Turkish military operations in Afrin, Syria. In response to the event, another group of students displayed banners condemning the military operations and shouted slogans including “There can be no Turkish delight for a massacre and an occupation” and “The palace wants war, the people want peace”. Some sources suggest that physical altercations broke out between the two groups.
Early in the morning on March 22, five students who allegedly protested against the AKP students were reportedly taken into custody by police. As of this report, it is unknown whether the students have been charged and when they may be released.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of students in apparent retaliation for the exercise of their right of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct which 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. State authorities have a responsibility to protect the rights of freedom of expression and due process. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom, and democratic society generally.