Police take two more Boğaziçi University students into custody on campus as families of jailed students call for their release  

Two more students from Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University were taken into police custody on campus on April 12. The students were taken to a makeshift police station set up recently on the campus, news reports said.

Thursday’s arrests marked the latest development in the crackdown on Boğaziçi students who expressed dissent over another group of Boğaziçi students who were distributing Turkish delights on campus late March in support of Turkey’s ongoing military operation on Afrin, Syria.

At least 16 of the protesting students were taken into custody during police raids on their homes and dorm rooms after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the students “communists and traitors” and branded them “terrorist youth” during a public speech.

On April 3, nine of the students were jailed pending trial following 12 days in custody by the 6th and 7th Criminal Judgeships of Peace of Istanbul on the charge of “spreading terrorist propaganda.” Six of the students were released on judicial control terms. 

The 7th Criminal Judgeship of Peace said in its ruling that detaining the students was an “adequate and proportionate measure” arguing that a failure to do so could cause “public unrest.”

Another student was arrested two days later, on April 5, for launching a letter-writing campaign for the jailed students.

The jailed students Şükran Yaren Tuncer, Esen Deniz Üstündağ, Sevda Öztürk and Kübra Sağır were sent to Bakırköy Women’s Prison while Berke Aydoğan, Yusuf Noyan Öztürk, Suat Atay, Deniz Yılmaz, İbrahim Erkul and Uzay Tulay were sent to Silivri Prison.

The arrests on April 12 came two days after the families of the jailed students held a joint press conference at the Istanbul Medical Chamber.

“Their place is not prison, but the campus,” said Bülent Yılmaz, the father of Deniz Yılmaz, during the April 10 press conference. “As the families of Boğaziçi University students who have been arrested, are put on trial and investigated, we call on those who pointed fingers at our children and the Boğaziçi University to apologize,” he said.

Families expressed their indignation over the imprisonment of their children for staging an anti-war protest. 

“My child is sensitive towards all living beings. These are children who only want peace,” said Özgür Tuncer, the mother of Yaren Tuncer (18). “Because they were able to express themselves freely at home, they thought they could do so outside,” Yaren’s mother added.

Bülent Yılmaz, who read the collective statement on behalf of the families, stressed that all the students worked hard to earn the right to be a student at the Boğaziçi University. “They weren’t enrolled at the Boğaziçi University by anyone’s courtesy. No one has the right to deprive them of their freedom to get education,” Yılmaz said. He also denounced ill-treatment the students faced during their time in custody at the Istanbul Police Department. “As their families, we are demanding this injustice towards our children to end immediately and that they will be released and all investigations into them will be dropped,” he said.

No official statement has been made by the Boğaziçi University administration on the arrested and detained as of April 12.