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 13, 2023

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Izmir Democracy University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 13, 2023, police forcefully detained two Izmir Democracy University students for holding a picnic to celebrate pride month. The students are members of Colors of Resistance, a pro-LGBTQ+ student initiative.

Colors of Resistance was setting up their picnic in a local park when police blocked them and reportedly threatened them. Police then detained two students and brought them to the Balçova Police Headquarters. They were released later that day after giving statements.

Colors of Resistance went ahead with the picnic despite the police intervention.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of students peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – conduct that is expressly protected under 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 a responsibility to refrain from interfering in the peaceful exercise of the right to free expression and association. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom, freedom of expression, and democratic society generally.

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