On June 2, 2018, Turkish authorities reportedly detained 25 university students in Adana, apparently based on alleged connections to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who authorities claim was responsible for a violent coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Following the coup attempt, Turkish authorities declared a national state of emergency, which has been extended repeatedly, and remains in effect as of this report. Authorities allege that members of a movement led by Mr. Gülen are behind the coup attempt, and have taken a range of actions against members of the higher education community (among others) which they claim are intended to identify those parties involved, and/or to eliminate the Gülen movement’s influence within Turkish institutions.
During the June 2 operation, police reportedly raided student dormitories in Adana, detaining 25 students. Thirteen of the students were released on the same day, while the status of the remaining 12 is unknown as of this report. Media reports suggest that authorities’ evidentiary bases for detaining the students include their residence in dormitories allegedly supported by members of the Gülen movement.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention of students as part of sweeping actions taken by the State against the higher education community. While State authorities have a right to maintain order and respond to legitimate security concerns, such actions must comply with States’ human rights obligations, including those relating to freedom of association, due process, and academic freedom, which are protected by 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. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.