RIGHTS > Students sentenced to eight years for banner in Turkey

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Two students who staged a protest in 2010 to demand free education were sentenced to eight years and five months in prison yesterday by a Turkish court for "membership in a terrorist organization."

The students, Berna Yılmaz and Ferhat Tüzer, unfurled a banner reading: “We want free education, we will get it,” during a meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Roma citizens on March 14, 2010.

Yılmaz and Tüzer have already spent one and a half year in jail under arrest. They were released in October 2011 after the previous prosecutor of the case, Kasım İlimoğlu, requested the students’ acquittal, arguing their act was constitutional and fell within the limits of the freedom of expression.

However, prosecutor Adem Özcan, who replaced İlimoğlu following his appointment to the case, demanded on March 9 that the students be sentenced on charges of membership of a terrorist organization. Tüzer, a mechanical engineering student at Trakya University, Yılmaz, an anthropology student at Ankara University, as well as another student, Utku Aykar, opened a banner demanding free education during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with the Roma community in March 2010.

Tüzer and Yılmaz were subsequently arrested but later released after remaining behind bars for 18 months, while Aykar was tried without arrest.

Aykar was acquitted of being a member in a terrorist organization but was still sentenced to two years and two months for his part in the protest.


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B Medic

6/14/2012 2:02:28 PM

Turkish judges and prosecutors never stop surprising. This Adem Özcan should be stripped of his red robe. What terrorist organization are these students accused of being members of?

Aslam Benli

6/8/2012 9:59:17 PM

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is reaching his real agenda: reverse the modern Turkey created by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk... into something backward, similar to Iran... Sharia Law and the Caliphate are his dream, with him as the Great Ayatollah - sweet Izmir, will I see you again?

jeffrey Jeffrey

6/8/2012 1:48:06 PM

There were two problems. !. they weren't demanding free RELIGIOUS education 2. This would have been unbeatable competition to Fetualan Gulen and his money machine.

Nina Antalya

6/8/2012 12:43:29 PM

Unbelievable how backward and intolerant the government is in Turkey. What? terrorism group? Was that the charge? If expressing an opinion, disruptive or disrespectfully to the forum or however it might be, lands one in jail for 8+ years, then Turkey has a long way to go to be a free society. This should be nothing more than escorting these men out of the area (if that) for being disruptive and maybe a fine for disturbance. The only free education will be to never speak up.

Chris Green

6/8/2012 12:16:09 PM

This kind of thing does Turkey no favours whatsoever and if anything hinders the development of what I believe will be a great country and in many ways, it already is. This will attract the attention of Turkey's many detractors especially those envious of her. It is fair to observe, I believe that one trait of the AK Parti is a paranoia in respect of protest, freedom of speech and expression and the PM himself is especially irascible in this regard! Maturity in politics is an essential asset!


6/8/2012 10:58:49 AM

Is This going to be another ruling against Turkey from the ECHR is a couple of years’ time – meanwhile these young people have had time taken away from them that can never be replaced.

KuriouserN Kuriouser

6/8/2012 10:37:43 AM

Adem Özcan, how can you sleep at night?

Falk Bernard

6/8/2012 4:38:26 AM

If that is the only thing they have done, Turkey shoudl be shamed. Also Erdogan and Gul should intervene in this crazy, backward attitude of the responsible persons in this matter. This is waste of energy and time of the police and justice.

MR Somalia

6/8/2012 4:12:20 AM

I can relate to this story.Before Somalia collapsed in 1991, education and healthcare were freed long before even developed countries like Australia started. Its just one of the things we miss the most and sometimes say, the ruler was a dictator but at least he did somethings right. In 1974 he mobilized over 30,000 teachers to provide free education and to make the Somali language official, this included mobile schools that followed nomadic people. He gave lawmakers six months to read and write

MR Somalia

6/8/2012 3:59:36 AM

This is wrong and is a crime against humanity. Why can't people ask for free education its not like the money is coming from the government's own pockets but the tax payers which includes these students parents, relatives and even themselves. They should sue the Turkish government and get compensations.
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