On June 16, 2023, private security guards chased and confiscated materials from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (MSGSU) students who had organized a parade in celebration of pride month. The students are members of Kuir Baykuş (Queer Owl), a pro-LGBTQ+ student organization.
The students gathered at MSGSU’s Fındıklı campus and planned to read a press statement before the parade. However, a large number of campus security guards met them at the planned location. The security guards reportedly took photos of students’ signs and banners and forced the students to relocate to MSGSU’s Bomonti campus.
At the new location, the students attempted to read their press statement, but were forced to stop when the security guards began to chase them and grab materials out of their hands. In a Twitter video, officers are seen shoving and chasing a student who is reading the press statement aloud.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the prevention of an on-campus event and the use of force against 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. University 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.