‘Haircut fest’ marks support for suspects of student trial
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The theme of yesterday’s demonstration drew on the fact that several defendants were arrested after they cut their hair and posed for pictures to cheer up a friend. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZOpposition lawmakers and university lecturers joined 200 students yesterday in cutting off locks of hair to express support for 28 leftist youths who appear in court today in one of Turkey’s most controversial trials of recent years.
Şafak Pavey of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Sırrı Süreyya Önder of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and prominent academic Professor Mithat Sancar were among the protestors who staged the hair cutting demonstration at the Ankara University campus.
The locks of hair were placed in envelopes, which activists intend to give today in the courtroom to the defendants who risk hefty jail terms on charges of belonging to terrorist organizations. They 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 northern town of Hopa. Retired teacher Metin Lokumcu died of a heart attack after police used tear gas against the demonstrators in Hopa, who took to the streets while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was visiting.
The theme of yesterday’s demonstration drew on the fact that several defendants were arrested after they cut their hair and posed for pictures to cheer up a friend who was already in jail, where he had his coveted long hair cut. The prosecutor argued it was a deliberate attempt to evade detention.
The case has come under widespread criticism after it emerged the indictment described leftist associations such as 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), the now-defunct radical group that led Turkey’s leftist movement in the 1970s. No weapons have been discovered in the probe into the students and they face no charges of armed action.
Halkevleri and Öğrenci Kolektifleri, avowed opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), have been at the forefront of various demonstrations against government policies.
“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 yesterday.
Industrial engineering student from Istanbul’s Galatasaray University Cihan Kırmızıgül will also appear in court today on terrorism-related charges after remaining under arrest for 22 months.
Students from Galatasaray University published a text signed by 200 supporters calling for Kırmızıgül’s release.
Kırmızıgül’s continued arrest has turned into a hefty and unjust punishment because law requires “presumption of innocence” until convincing and lawful evidence is presented in court concerning Kırmızıgül’s alleged crime, according to the students’ text.
Kırmızıgül was implicated on terrorism-related charges for wearing a poshu scarf near a grocery store that was attacked by unidentified individuals wearing the same garment.