On November 8, 2022, police clashed with students, faculty, and other members of the Middle Eastern Technical University (METU) who sought to participate in a city council hearing about the construction of a road on their university campus.
The group of METU community members opposed to the construction project gathered outside the Ankara city council building and read a statement to journalists. They then attempted to enter the building but municipal personnel and police refused their entry, citing a policy purportedly intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Available video shows the METU group attempting to push their way into the building. After a few students were admitted into the building, riot police arrived on the scene and pushed back and, apparently without warning, began using pepper spray on the group from METU. Video shows police continuing to beat and use pepper spray against students as the latter attempted to flee. Police reportedly blocked a number of journalists from covering the incident and deleted videos from their cameras. According to reports, at least 6 people were arrested.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about police using force against students and faculty. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order and safety, they must exercise restraint and ensure that their actions and policies are undertaken with due regard for relevant international human rights principles including the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Likewise, while students and faculty have rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they should also exercise those rights peacefully and responsibly.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)