Turkey goes after supporters of Boğaziçi University student protests

A prosecutor in Istanbul has prepared an indictment against 97 people for attending an unlawful demonstration, which was part of months-long protests over a government linked rector appointed to the city’ prestigious Boğaziçi University, news website Bianet reported on Saturday.

The indictment accusing Boğaziçi students and supporters of violating COVID-19 measures by attending the protest was prepared on March 31, and was recently accepted by an Istanbul court, according to Bianet.

The suspects are among people detained on Feb. 1 during a demonstration in the Boğaziçi campus, as students and supporters gathered to protest Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of Melih Bulu, a party loyalist, as rector to the university.

A total of 108 people had been detained on the same day. The court separated 10 suspects from the indictment due to another case already underway on the same charges, and another suspect because he was a minor.

The 75-page indictment cited posters, banners, signs and flyers sporting slogans for various causes, including autonomy for universities and anti-sexism in education, as evidence of criminal activity.

The Boğaziçi protests started in January, against Erdoğan bypassing rector elections altogether and bringing in a supporter of his, going against the university’s tradition of electing rectors from among its senior faculty.

The protests picked up speed and spread outside Boğaziçi as police intervened more in the protests, and several government officials targeted the university’s LGBT community, calling them deviants and saying homosexuality does not exist.

Hundreds of people were detained in relation to the protests, with most of them released after a few days. Two students were released by a court after spending a month in pre-trial detention, and several students remain under arrest.