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: June 17, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Institution(s):Istanbul University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 17, 2022, nationalist and religious groups gathered in front of Istanbul University’s (IU) Beyazit Campus and shouted threats against members of the LGBTQ+ community, forcing the IU Equality Society to cancel a picnic that was scheduled to take place as part of LGBTQ+ Pride week. Police detained 26 students who continued to participate in the picnic.

Nationalist groups, including the Grey Wolves and Turkish Youth Foundation, issued threatening statements on social media against the students in response to the IU Equality Society’s posting about the Pride picnic.

On June 17th, in response to the threats made by about 100 people gathered in front of the university, the IU Equality Society canceled the picnic due to safety concerns. In spite of the threats, some of the students continued to hold the picnic. Police reportedly detained 26 of them.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about threats and arrests in an apparent attempt to limit the right to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly on campus – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with such activities, so long as they are undertaken peacefully and responsibly. State and private actions limiting the rights to free expression or association on campus have a chilling effect on academic freedom and university autonomy, and undermine democratic society generally.