Students allege ill-treatment in detention

Boğaziçi University protestors
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The announcement on 1 January of the appointment by the President of Professor Melih Bulu as the rector of Boğaziçi University was met with widespread protests by students and academic staff at the University, including on social media. On 4 January, a group consisting mostly of Boğaziçi University students- though students from other universities also attended in solidarity- held an overwhelmingly peaceful protest at the entrance of the Boğaziçi University campus. According to the testimony of students and footage of the protests seen by Amnesty International, the protests were overwhelmingly peaceful. There were isolated incidents of very minor violence, such as a protestor kicking a police shield. Law enforcement officers who were in riot gear subjected the largely peaceful crowd – of around 500 - to tear gas and water cannons and several protestors were briefly detained on the ground.

The right to freedom of peaceful assembly cannot be arbitrarily prevented. The OSCE Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, which state “the use of violence by a small number of participants in an assembly (including the use of inciteful language) does not automatically turn an otherwise peaceful assembly into a non-peaceful assembly, and any intervention should aim to deal with the particular individuals involved rather than dispersing the entire event. […] Dispersal should not, therefore, result where a small number of participants in an assembly act in a violent manner. In such instances, action may be taken against those particular individuals. Similarly, if agents provocateurs infiltrate an otherwise peaceful assembly, the authorities should take appropriate action to remove the agents provocateurs rather than terminating or dispersing the assembly or declaring it to be unlawful.” It follows also that, “individual participants in any assembly who themselves do not commit any violent acts should not be prosecuted, even if others in the assembly become violent or disorderly.”

On 5 January, at least 17 students were detained during the dawn raids. The officers used force to gain entry in the home of a student who was not there at the time, breaking the wall next to the door to the property. A student for whom an arrest warrant had not been issued but was present at an address where the raid was carried out was also detained. Several students detained reported that the warrant was presented to them after, not before their houses were raided and they were hand-cuffed from behind.

On 7 and 8 January, 35 students were released, most are subject to judicial controls.

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