On October 5, 2023, police detained eight Dokuz Eylül University students during a peaceful on-campus protest against increased food prices.
The students gathered in the university cafeteria and banged cutlery on trays in protest of the price increase. Security guards confronted them and forcefully escorted them outside to police officers, who were waiting with vans. Security guards also attempted to grab students’ phones to prevent them from filming the incident, as seen in a video.
Police transported the students to the Izmir Police Department Security Branch Directorate, releasing them after the students received health checks and made statements to the police.
In a video recorded after their release, the students stated they had been scheduled to have a meeting with the university’s rector earlier that day, prior to the protest. However, despite the fact that the rector’s office had contacted them with the request to meet, the rector did not make an appearance.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of peaceful student protesters on-campus for 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. While university and state authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order and safety, they must exercise restraint and ensure that their actions are undertaken with due regard for relevant international human rights principles including the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, such arbitrary detentions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.