Turkey: Metu Pride Must Be Allowed To Proceed
Amnesty International has seen an email sent by the METU administration on 7 June to all of the university's students, attempting to prohibit the planned Pride march, stating that it ‘has been absolutely banned’ and threatening students with police intervention if they go ahead with their plans to have a peaceful demonstration.
The email claims that the university has a peaceful, productive, and creative academic environment, and that their reputation is being threatened by their students demonstrating in a nonviolent manner during Pride Month.
On 10 May 2019, the last time METU's students and academic staff attempted to hold a peaceful Pride March in the campus, they were met with excessive police force, forbidden from marching and charged with "participating in an unlawful assembly" and "refusing to disperse despite being warned". At least 21 students and staff were detained and 19 among them were prosecuted in a trial that ended with their acquittal in October 2021.
States have a positive obligation to facilitate peaceful assemblies in law and in practice. As is the case in Turkish law, the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is not subject to permission of government authorities, this right is also protected under international law and standards in conventions Turkey is a party to. Any decision to disperse an assembly should be taken only as a last resort and carefully in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality, that is only when there are no other means available to protect a legitimate aim which outweighs the right of people to assemble peacefully. In any such situation, police must, as far as possible, avoid any use of force and, in any event, must always restrict it to the minimum level necessary.