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: September 20, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment


Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 20, 2021, police reportedly arrested nine students during a protest over a lack of affordable student housing.

Starting on September 19, students from various universities across the country began camping out and sleeping in parks or in the streets as part of a movement called Barınamıyoruz Hareket (“We Can’t Shelter”), to protest the rising cost of rent. The group alleges that university dormitories don’t have enough space to accommodate all students, forcing them to find alternative housing. The rising cost of rent over the past year, largely due to inflation and COVID-19, has rendered unaffordable the apartments and houses that students would otherwise have rented.

On September 20, students set up a tent in a park in Ankara with plans to spend the night there. Police arrived and, after students refused to remove their tent, arrested nine students.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention of students peacefully exercising their 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, detentions in response to peaceful student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.