On February 4, 2021, police detained 17 university students as they engaged in a nonviolent political protest in the city of Bursa.
Since January 2021, students and faculty across Turkey have held frequent protests in response to a controversial rector appointment by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at Boğaziçi University. Police have used force and arrested demonstrators in many of the protests.
Students led protests at a Bursa venue known as Görükle Sports Park to express solidarity with the students of Boğaziçi University. Police responded by detaining 17 of the protesters: video shows police pushing students out of the park and forcing them onto a police bus. All of the detained students were released later that night. As of this report, it is unclear whether the students were charged with a crime.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of students apparently intended to restrict their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly 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. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against expressive activities and assemblies, so long as they are peaceful and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of detentions in response to peaceful expressive activity on campus undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).