Students detained in ongoing Boğaziçi protests reveal torture, threats by Turkish police

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“We were detained around 4:30 p.m. and forced to wait in a bus until 5 a.m. The environment itself was [a kind of] torture. We were beaten a lot. My shoulders still hurt,” İstanbul University student Elif Üçerli told the Evrensel daily.

Elif was one of 108 students released from detention on Tuesday after 159 were taken into custody following demonstrations Monday at İstanbul’s prestigious Boğaziçi University  protesting new rector Melih Bulu, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who was appointed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a month ago.

Protests around the university and in several other İstanbul districts and other provinces have been continuing while widely criticized police intervention in them is getting heavier each day, with police officers allegedly beating and sexually harassing students while carrying out their detention and torturing and threatening them in custody.

Another İstanbul University student identified only by the initials K. Ç. told Evrensel that two police officers dragged her to a police vehicle to detain her.

“There were four riot police standing behind me at that moment. One of them squeezed my bottom twice. I turned around and yelled at them, telling them to stay away. They then pressed me against the car and rear-handcuffed me before putting me in the car,” she said.

Şeyma Çopur, a student from Mimar Sinan University, told Evrensel that she and several others were violently detained by police while they were waiting for their friends at a bus stop near Boğaziçi University.

Claiming that the violence continued after their detention, Çopur said: “We were all rear-handcuffed. We were verbally and physically harassed [by police]. They swore at us. They told us: ‘We are the government. Can you imagine what we can do to you here?’ They squeezed our friends’ testicles. We were beaten a lot in the [police] vehicle. I got bruises all over my body.”

Batuhan Çotur, a student from Akdeniz University in Antalya, also said he and several others were punched and dragged on the ground by police officers while being detained.

Mimar Sinan University student Rıdvan Gezegen said a number of protestors, including him, were kicked and punched by police who were forcing them to get into a vehicle after they resisted handcuffs.

“Once they managed to rear-handcuff me, a police officer started hitting me and a friend with a baton behind a police car. I couldn’t protect myself and received at least two heavy blows to the head,” he added.

“Four or five police officers stepped on us. They insulted us and threatened us, saying, ‘Don’t forget these faces.’ They were especially rough on female protestors. They [officers] pulled their hair and kicked them on the floor before detaining them,” Tanya Kara, a student from Ege University in İzmir, said.

Caner Delisu recounted that several police officers threatened him and some of his friends, calling them “terrorists” and saying, “We will put an end to you” while they hit them with batons and forced them to get into a vehicle.

Cases of torture and ill-treatment increased significantly after an abortive putsch claimed the lives of more than 250 people in Turkey on July 15, 2016. A total of 240 incidents of torture and maltreatment took place in Turkey in December, with 143 of them occurring in prisons, a report drafted by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), recently revealed.

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