Mar 28 2018

Turkish university students detained and beaten over Afrin protest

Students from Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University, one of Turkey’s most prestigious academic institutions, are still being held in detention after objecting to students celebrating Turkey’s successful capture of the northwest Syrian town of Afrin on Mar. 18.

Several of the students have reported that they were beaten by the police after being detained.

A fight broke out on Mar. 19 when students objected to a stall set up by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s youth branch to celebrate victory in Afrin, sparking demonstrations against the students, who were labelled as “terrorists.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan weighed in the following Saturday, vowing to expel the anti-war students, whom he labelled “communists” and “traitors”, during a rally in the northern Turkish city of Samsun.

These remarks spurred the police force to take action against the students, a total of 21 of whom were detained on campus or during raids of their dormitories.

Unless the police press charges, the eleven remaining in detention should be released by Thursday, when the legal time limit on detentions is filled, said Engin Kara, one of the lawyers representing the students.

However, those in detention have already sustained psychological trauma from the ordeal, and some have suffered beatings, said Kara.

A 23-year-old student who was among the detainees described the police’s treatment of students to German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

“They blindfolded us in the police van,” said the student. “There are marks on my body where I was hit. Seven others also reported being beaten. Some have marks from the handcuffs, another has a broken nose.”