At least 800 people demonstrating against the appointment of a pro-government rector to İstanbul’s prestigious Boğaziçi University were subjected to ill-treatment by police officers who carried out their detention in 38 provinces, a report released by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) has revealed.
Fifteen protestors were injured while being detained and 60 others shared with the TİHV their experiences of battery, sexual assault and harassment and threats and insults that they faced while being put in police vehicles and held in detention centers, the foundation said in the report issued on Wednesday.
“Judicial supervision measures such as travel bans, the requirement to check in with the police on a regular basis and house arrest have been turned into methods of punishment. Eleven people were arrested in the protests, while 257 detainees were released under judicial supervision. Twenty-nine of them were put under house arrest,” TİHV noted.
The rights to freedom of expression and the press were violated, the foundation said, adding that at least six journalists were injured during violent police intervention in the protests across Turkey and that two students were briefly arrested due to their messages on social media in support of the protests.
TİHV urged the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to stop using rhetoric that incites or justifies violence against peaceful protestors and eliminate the impunity that protects public officials who engage in violence.
“The responsibility to prevent torture initially belongs to the government. … Equating the citizens’ right to demand things from the government with committing a crime amounts to ignoring the citizens,” it underlined.
Since early January, Boğaziçi students and alumni, along with students of other universities and politicians and activists, have protested the appointment of Melih Bulu, a long-time member of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP, as rector of the university, arguing that it undercut academic freedoms and democracy.
Hundreds demanding the resignation of Bulu and the appointment of a rector from the university staff after the holding of an election have been detained for participating in the protests that have echoes of the Gezi Park protests, which erupted in 2013 against plans to demolish a park in İstanbul’s Taksim neighborhood before spreading nationally and presenting a direct challenge to Erdoğan’s rule.