On February 5, 2021, police detained 26 university students protesting in Konak, Izmir in solidarity with Boğaziçi University students.
Since January 2021, students and faculty across Turkey have held frequent protests in response to the controversial appointment of Rector Melih Bulu by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at Boğaziçi University. Police have used force and arrested demonstrators in many of the protests.
In Konak, students gathered to protest in solidarity with Boğaziçi University. Police arrested 26 students on charges of “opposing the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations No. 2911” and “resistance to the officer in charge.” Video shows police pinning students to the ground while handcuffing them and forcing them onto busses. Twenty students were released the next day, while six were reportedly released on the condition they obtain a judicial signature every two weeks.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about 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. While state authorities have a right to maintain public order, they 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).