Number of arrested students ‘on the rise’ in Turkey

Number of arrested students ‘on the rise’ in Turkey

ISTANBUL - Radikal
Number of arrested students ‘on the rise’ in Turkey

This file photo shows a protest for the release of student Cihan Kırmızıgül.

A recent report prepared by the Solidarity with Arrested Students Platform says that there are currently 771 students in jail in Turkey.

Prepared by academics from different universities, the report underlines that the majority of the students are charged with “propagandizing for an illegal organization,” although most of the arrested students are not members of any illegal organizations.

“None of the students have exerted violence against anyone. Most of them are not members of any illegal organization, although they are charged with making propaganda for them. The issues they are charged with are asking for free education or education in Kurdish. According to a decision by the Supreme Court in 2008, one can be charged with making illegal propaganda for participating a protest held by an organization,” Mehmet Karlı, an academic from Istanbul’s Galatasaray University, said. Even following the court cases of arrested students or attending press conferences regarding their arrests can be considered membership in a terrorist organization, Karlı said. “As a first step, the specially authorized courts should be changed.”

Another academic, Başak Demir, said students are asked to pay a transfer fee of about 1,000 Turkish Liras in order to take their exams from prison, and they are not allowed to bring their class notes into prisons.

A recent case that brought the issue into the media spotlight was that of Cihan Kırmızıgül, a university student who was arrested in 2010 for wearing a “poshu” scarf near a grocery store that had previously been attacked by unidentified individuals wearing the same garment, and sentenced to 11 years and three months in jail.

Another controversial case is that of students Berna Yılmaz and Ferhat Tüzer, who were sentenced to eight years in jail for making terrorist propaganda after they staged a protest demanding free education. An Istanbul court announced its detailed ruling on the sentencing in the case on June 22, saying that the students were not found guilty for the banner they carried, but for the vests they were wearing, which carried symbols of a “terrorist organization.”

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