SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: February 04, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution


Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 4, 2021, police detained 19 university students in the city of Samsun, as they protested in solidarity with Boğaziçi University students and to condemn the forceful arrest of protesters. 

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.

On February 4, students had gathered in Samsun to issue a statement in support of Boğaziçi students. Video shows police with riot shields forcefully pushing the students. Nineteen of the students were detained, and released later that day after being charged with “opposing the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations No. 2911” and “resisting arrest.” 

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention and prosecution 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.