People have gathered in front of the main courthouse in Istanbul on Friday in an act of solidarity with university students who were about to face court on multiple charges.
Two of the students, Ersin Berke Gök and Caner Perit Özen who have been in custody for more than three months plus 12 others are accused of violating regulations on mass demonstrations, depriving some individuals of freedom, obstructing public service by resisting public servants and seizing public transport vehicles.
The students were detained by police 5 October 2021 on the campus of the Boğaziçi University as they were peacefully making a public statement in front of the rector’s building. Gök and Özen were detained later while the others were released on bail.
The mother of Caner Perit Özen made a statement in front of the courthouse.
“They have been deprived of their right to an education and their freedoms because they exercised their right to protest,” Canseli Özen said. “And why? Because they demanded administrational autonomy and academic liberty. We will continue to support the just stance of our children and stand by their peaceful protests so full of creative ideas.”
A group of students and academy members from the Boğaziçi University were present in the gathering outside the court. A teacher spoke, noting that hundreds of students within the last year had been detained and faced court.
“The prosecutor is asking for prison sentences from six to thirty two years for the students,” he said. “This is not the first time we, the academic members of the Boğaziçi University, came to the Çağlayan Courthouse since a rector was appointed by the president 2 January 2021. Hundreds of students have been arrested, faced court, deprived of their scholarships simply for having exercised their constitutional rights. Or their applications for post graduate studies have been actively obstructed by bans on foreign visits.”
As the hearing session was still in progress, it has been reported on Twitter that Caner Perit Özen said in his statement to the court:
“We are not only intelligent and good-mannered students. We also have an ongoing just struggle. We don’t have a master like the appointed trustees from who we get orders and before whom we bow down to. I reject the accusations and demand my acquittal.”