Turkish police detain students after Erdoğan’s ‘terrorist’ rebuke
Police on March 25 were holding seven students from Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused them of behaving like “terrorists” for staging a protest opposing Turkey’s military campaign in Syria.
Police stormed a students’ dormitory and a house at the university around dawn on March 25 and detained three students lawyer İnayet Aksu told Agence France-Presse.
With the latest detentions, the number of students being held by the police rose to seven, Aksu added. Erdoğan on March 24 had slammed a group of students at Boğaziçi University as “terrorists” as tensions rose on the campus over divided views of Turkey’s cross-border military campaign in Syria.
A group of students this week opened a stand handing out sweets or Turkish delight they had dubbed “Afrin delight” in memory of the fallen soldiers in the army’s almost two-month operation to capture the city from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers a “terror network” due to its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In a show of protest, another group of students unfurled anti-war banners. Aksu told AFP the detentions began on March 22, based on the video recordings.
“An [anti-war] expression could disturb certain quarters but it cannot be considered a crime under the Turkish penal code,” he said.
Erdoğan had labeled the protesters “communists” and “terrorists” and praised the other group as “believers.”
“While these youths were distributing sweets there, those other communist, traitorous youths dared to storm their stand,” Erdoğan said at a provincial congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Black Sea province of Samsun.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20 to clear YPG militants from Afrin. On March 18, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) declared full control over the city.
Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, took to Twitter over Erdoğan’s targeting students.
“Anti-war protestors labeled ‘terrorists’ by President Erdogan. Critical thinking dangerous endeavor in ‘new Turkey,’” Piri wrote.