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 21, 2024

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Istanbul University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 21, 2024, police forcibly prevented a group of student protesters from entering the campus of Istanbul University in Fatih, injuring one student.

On February 13, Istanbul University’s administration announced that the campus would be open to the public. The decision prompted strong reactions on and off campus, and a group of students contended that the decision was a security risk.

On February 20 and 21, a group of students staged a demonstration to protest the decision, as well as Istanbul University’s policy prohibiting students from transferring from one faculty at the university to another. Police used riot shields to forcibly prevent the students from entering the campus, causing clashes. One student was taken to the hospital with injuries.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about 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. While state authorities have the right to implement reasonable laws and regulations to ensure order, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from actions that may result in unnecessary harm. 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)