Turkey detains four students ahead of graduation ceremony famous for its anti-government banners

Turkish police detained four students from the Middle East Technical University in the capital of Ankara, before their graduation ceremony, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet reported on Sunday.

The university is a traditionally left-leaning school which is regularly ranked among the top higher education institutes in Turkey. On top of its academic success, its famous for its graduation ceremony in which students carry satirical anti-government banners.

Four students were detained by police in dawn raids a day before the ceremony while police broke into and searched the house of a former head of student representative board, according to Cumhuriyet.  

Various protests have been taking place in the university recently against the appointment of rector Mustafa Verşan Kök by the government despite his loss of consultative elections by staff to another candidate.

Last year, another group of four students were detained who carried a banner with cartoons of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s face on a variety of animals at the graduation ceremony on charges of insulting the president. Later the students met with the president and Erdoğan's lawyers dropped the charges against them.  

The cartoons had already been at the centre of another case, in which the cartoonist was found innocent of the same charges for drawing them.