Urgent Action: Students Allege Ill-Treatment in Detention (Turkey: UA 2.21)
January 13, 2021
Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a peaceful protest held at the Boğaziçi University on 4 January. At least 45 students were detained during raids between 5 to 7 January after their alleged participation in a protest at the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Many among them have alleged torture or other ill-treatment, including being handcuffed on their backs, beaten, and some LGBTI+ students threatened with rape and subjected to insults. The prosecuting authorities must investigate these allegations and bring law enforcement officers found to be responsible to justice.
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Mr. Şaban Yılmaz, Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Çağlayan Meydanı
Şişli Merkez Mah.
Abide-i Hürriyet Cad. No: 223
Şişli / İstanbul
Fax: +90 212 3757148 – +90 212 3757585
Email: [email protected]
I am writing regarding the alleged torture and other ill-treatment of students detained during raids carried out by the armed officers of the Special Forces (Ozel Harekat) between 5 and 7 January, on allegations that they have violated Article 32.1 of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations during a peaceful assembly at the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul on 4 January, protesting the appointment by the President of Prof Melih Bulu as the rector of the University. Law enforcement officials used tear gas and water cannons indiscriminately to disperse the largely peaceful protestors, and some students were dragged on the floor, beaten, and briefly detained. According to the lawyers and students Amnesty International spoke to, the students detained during the dawn raids were allegedly subjected to ill-treatment, including being pushed and made to lay down and handcuffed on their backs for an hour and a half. One student was allegedly hit on the head with a police helmet and another reported that officers held a gun to their head soon after they entered the house. At least eight students said they were forcibly strip searched, some more than once, while two LGBTI+ students were allegedly threatened with rape and verbally abused regarding their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. To date, at least fifteen students have reported being subjected to ill-treatment in and on the hospital grounds where they were taken for medical examination and, in the case of one of them, the student believes the alleged ill-treatment had been filmed by people at the hospital.
Under both international human rights law conventions, to which Turkey is a state party to, as well as its own domestic laws, the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly cannot be arbitrarily prevented. Torture and other ill-treatment is prohibited under all circumstances. All those detained during the protest and dawn raids have since been released, the majority under judicial control, but the risk of prosecution remains. I urge you to ensure that all allegations of torture or other ill-treatment against the Boğaziçi University protestors are promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated with those found to have carried out acts of torture or other ill-treatment and threats brought to justice.