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 17, 2023

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Dokuz Eylül University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 17, 2023, police detained 22 students participating in a demonstration at Dokuz Eylul University over the government’s decision to make university education remote and vacate all state-run university dormitories to accommodate earthquake victims.

On February 6, 2023, an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter Scale hit southeast Turkey, affecting millions across the country. On February 11, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that university classes would proceed remotely for the Spring 2023 term, and students would vacate dormitories belonging to the state-run Credit and Dormitory Institution, in order to accommodate earthquake victims.

On February 17, students held a sit-in demonstration in front of the university administration building. When they attempted to meet with the administration to submit a petition, police intervened and detained 22 students. The students were reportedly released after their statements were taken.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of students in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – conduct that is 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. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, such arbitrary arrests undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)