On March 25, 2018, Turkish police reportedly detained at least three students from Boğaziçi University, in apparent retaliation for their alleged participation in a campus protest.
According to sources, on March 19, the students participated in a counter protest on the Boğaziçi campus in response to an event held by student members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), who were raising support for Turkish armed forces serving in Syria. The counter-protesters reportedly shouted and displayed banners with anti-war slogans; some physical altercations broke out between the two groups, according to some sources.
Starting on March 22, police began an operation to detain alleged counter protesters (see report). They reportedly arrested three Boğaziçi students during early-morning raids on their homes on March 25. As of this report, the students’ identities and the charges against them have not been publicly disclosed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has since referred to the counter-protesters as “terrorists” and “communists,” and announced investigations into them.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of students in apparent retaliation for their exercise of their right to freedom of expression — 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.