Crowd gathers to show support for arrested students
ANKARA - Doğan News Agency (DHA)
DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZA large crowd gathered in front of an Ankara courthouse today to express support for 28 students put on trial after they protested the death of a retired teacher in a prior protest.
The 28 were arrested over violent street protests in Ankara on May 31 that erupted in reaction to a heavy-handed crackdown on a demonstration earlier in the day in the Black Sea district of Hopa.
Retired teacher Metin Lokumcu died of a heart attack after police used tear gas against demonstrators in Hopa, who took to the streets as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was staging a rally ahead of the June 12 election.
The first hearing of the case against the students was held today. The defendants were charged with “being members of an armed terrorist organization,” “damaging public property” and “resisting public officers.”
People in the courthouse applauded when the students were brought in, while people from different organizations and political parties gathered outside the building, chanting “We will not surrender to the AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party],” and “No way for Fascism.”
The case has come under widespread criticism after it emerged that the indictment described leftist associations such as the Halkevleri (People’s Houses) and Öğrenci Kolektifleri (Students’ Collectives), to which most of the defendants belonged, as the extensions of the Turkish People’s Liberation Party-Front (THKP-C), a now-defunct radical group that was one of Turkey’s most important leftist movements in the 1970s.
“The case shows the true face of the AKP. The case is intended to give people the message they could be arrested for membership in a terrorist group if they dare to oppose the government,” CHP deputy İlhan Cihaner said.