22 December 2012
The Turkish capital awoke Dec. 21 to police raids at several student houses just three days after the same students were subjected to disproportionate police force while protesting a visit by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdošan to the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) on Dec. 18. The accusations that protesting students are “terrorists” has received substantial public outcry from universities, political parties and bar associations.
Ten students from ODTÜ, Ankara University, Hacettepe University and Gazi University were taken into custody as of the afternoon of Dec. 21, while two students subject to prosecution are still being located.
An anti-terror unit of the Ankara police launched raids at students’ houses early in the morning upon an order from the Ankara prosecutor authorized for terror-related crimes. The prosecutor charged students as being members of terrorist organizations and committing crimes on behalf of a terrorist organization. Students are also accused of resisting security forces, provoking demonstrations against the police and violating the law on meetings and demonstrations.
The Ankara Bar Association protested the raids in front of the Ankara Court House with a press statement read by its administrative board member Erol Aras.
“Students’ being taken into custody within the framework of the anti-terror Law, while they were using their most natural right to protest, is an intimidation,” Aras said, adding that the prosecutors had not provided any evidence related to counterterrorism to the students’ lawyers.
A group of students protested the visit of Erdošan, who came to ODTÜ to attend the Göktürk-2 satellite launch ceremony Dec. 18. Police used pepper gas and pressurized water against the protesting students, who were not allowed to approach the ceremony hall.
Five students were injured due to the pepper gas, while a law student from Ankara University, Barżž Barżžżk, suffered a brain hemorrhage after a gas bomb hit him in the head during clashes between students and police.
Following a visit to Barżžżk by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Lütfü Türkkan on Dec. 20, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy parliamentary group chair Emine Ülker Tarhan and CHP Ankara deputy Levent Gök also visited Barżžżk on Dec. 21.The CHP has been closely following the ongoing custody of students and has been in contact with both the Police Department and the prosecutor’s office, Tarhan said.
Academic unions also protested the police operation against the student demonstrations, with the Middle East Academic Personnel Association (OED), the Education and Science Employees Union (Ešitim Sen) Ankara Universities Branch and the ODTÜ Alumni Associations Council issuing a joint statement condemning police violence.