The police intervened with tear gas and beating against students who were going to protest Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Higher Education Council (YÖK) on Sunday (5 December). The students had gathered in front of Dolmabahçe Palace on the European banks of the Bosporus where PM Erdoğan was having a meeting with university rectors.
Hüseyin Çelik, Deputy Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) commented afterwards, "The youth are our heart and soul".
As reported by the Turkish news channel CNN Türk, members of the Students Youth Union (Genç-Sen) encountered a brutal intervention by the police when they tried to walk towards the Prime Minister's office. Last week, Genç-Sen members had already protested Erdoğan by throwing eggs at him.
About 150 students came by bus from Eskişehir (central Anatolia) and Ankara to join the protest. However, they were stopped on the Asian side of Istanbul and were not allowed to enter the area.
Students who gave a break at a service station in Kurtköy (Asian side of Istanbul) encountered a police intervention with tear gas.
A riot emerged after the police intervention. 40 students were taken into custody, 37 of whom were released later on after they had given their statements. Students Emre Ö., Aziz G. and Didem A. were taken to court because of "resistance to the police" and were then released by the Beyoğlu (Istanbul) 1st Magistrate Court on duty.
A 19-year-old woman lost her unborn baby as a result of beating. Gülüzar Tuncer, joint attorney of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Istanbul Branch, told bianet that the young women applied to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) and is currently trying to overcome the trauma she experienced.
In a statement made to journalists the woman said, "Even though I told the police 'Don't beat me, I am pregnant', they kicked my stomach and hit me with batons".
The youth is our heart and soul
AKP politician Çelik provided the press with information on the meeting. He said that a "Dolmabahçe Meeting" was scheduled with representatives from youth organizations for January 2011. Regarding the question whether the young people who joined the protest would be invited as well he replied:
"We do not discriminate between supporters and dissidents when we invite the young people, the students. Our invitations to the youth do not have anything to do with the protestors. No matter if they protest or not, they are our youth, they are our heart and soul. We love our youth, our country and our people".
"We only wanted to submit a file"
Student Işıl Kurt from the Eskişehir Osmangazi University told Milliyet newspaper about her experiences in the course of the police intervention.
"The riot forces police pressed down my calves and made me lay down on the ground. They beat me on my chest, my face and my back. They were cursing while they beat me. I remember shouting 'We only wanted to submit a folder' when they dragged me to the police bus. Then I passed out".
Çağlar Kara from Istanbul University, one of the students who were taken into custody, recalled, "They sprayed gas without warning. Two policemen tried to squeeze me into a crowd of about a hundred policemen. They only stopped when they saw the reporters. I can say that the journalists saved me. We are anyways exposed to harassment, insult and beating when the journalists are not there".
Student İlke Acar from Marmara University (Istanbul) said that they were not given anything to eat or drink during the whole time they were kept in custody.
Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission
Akın Birdal, Member of Parliament for the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), urged the Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission to convene as soon as possible in order to investigate who was responsible for the police violence against the students.
Commission member Birdal submitted a petition reading, "The right to democratic criticism and demonstrations are considered fundamental human rights in international human rights documents and agreements. It is one of the Commissions prime duties and responsibilities to investigate this disproportional use of force against students who joined the protest by using their rights".
"Is protest a crime?"
Democratic Left Party (DSP) Member of Parliament Süleyman Yağız submitted a resolution of questions addressing PM Erdoğan.
Yagız wrote, "The police never ever allow any kind of protest. They are very careful on this subject and they do not give any respite to the protestors. So, even without resorting to violence, is protesting a crime for you, is it forbidden? Is there any related provision in our laws that is not known by the public? In which other democratic country can we see such applications?" (EÖ/BT/EÜ/VK)
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