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LOCAL > Police ‘raid’ house of university student in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

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A university student has claimed that her house in Tophane was raided by police in relation to the prime minister's recent statements against mixed-sex student accommodation.

A university student has claimed that her house in Tophane was raided by police in relation to the prime minister's recent statements against mixed-sex student accommodation.

Sevim Songün Demirezen Sevim Songün Demirezen sevim.songun@hurriyet.com.tr

A university student staying at a house in Istanbul’s Tophane neighborhood has claimed that her house was entered by police on Nov. 5 and her family relations were questioned by the police, in relation to the recent controversy over mixed-sex student accommodation. She also told the Hürriyet Daily News that a number of similar raids were staged in the neighborhood at the same time.

Özge Altın, a master’s student at Istanbul City University, said she was not at home during the incident and only learned of what happened from her neighbors and the property owner, who was living in the same building. Altın has been living in the same apartment for five years with another female university student.

She said around 30 police officers, plainclothes officers, municipal workers, and treasury officers had told her neighbors that they were looking for an apartment where “two female university students are staying,” on the grounds that it was being used as an unofficial hotel.

Altın was told by the property owner that the police had started to ask private questions about her after the house owner showed their contract and said there was nothing “illegal or disturbing” about the girls.

“They asked questions about where I am from, whether I visit my family, and how long I stay with my family when I visit them,” said Altın.

Despite living in a conservative neighborhood and having conservative house owners who openly say they have voted for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the past, she said she had never experienced such problems before. She said her neighbors had also voiced their discomfort with the raid and did not allow the police to enter the students’ houses without any search warrants.

Altın said she was not surprised by such a move after the recent remarks of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denouncing co-ed housing. However, she was surprised when she was told by neighbors that the police were knocking on a number of doors in the neighborhood.

“Another student who said his house was raided was told by his neighbors that associations in Tophane had made complaints about student houses to the prime minister’s office. This is more worrying than the raids themselves,” she said.

Altın added that she had been told by a legal adviser that she could not file a complaint because the police did not leave any notification about their visit. However, she said she was now looking for possible paths to file complaints about the incident.

November/08/2013

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