In response to a call by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), four members of the European Parliament (EP) released a statement urging the Turkish authorities to immediately end the arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of two jailed university students in Turkey.
The Boğaziçi University students Ersin Berke Gök and Caner Perit Özen alongside a group of eight others were first beaten by security guards, then arrested by the police as they were peacefully making a public statement in front of the rectorate building in the university campus in Istanbul on 5 October 2021.
On the same day, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan labelled the protesting students as “terrorists who infiltrated universities” in a speech, and the Boğaziçi University rector, Naci İnci, consequently filed a complaint against the students with the prosecutor’s office on charges of ‘making threats’, “insulting”, ‘damage to property’, ‘obstructing public duty’ and ‘violating the regulations on mass meetings and demonstrations.’
After eight of the students were released and the two were were placed in solitary confinement in Istanbul’s Metris Prison, Gök and Özen were later transferred to Silivri Prison in Istanbul where they’ve been reportedly denied communication with their family members, kept in solitary confinement, denied access to medicine, as well as university examination documents. Gök has been denied food in accordance with his required diet.
Four members of the European Parliament, Özlem Alev Demirel (the Left, Germany), Idoia Villanueva (the Left, Spain), Dietmar Köster (SPD, Germany) and Niklas Niklas Nienaß (Greens, Germany), responded on Monday to the urgent call made by TİHV on 14 December, urging the Turkish authorities to ‘end the ‘arbitrary detention’, the ‘torture’ and the ‘judicial aggression’ against the two students.
The call made by the MEPs is as follows:
The physical and mental integrity of Ersin Berke Gök, Caner Perit Özen and all participants of peaceful protests at Boğaziçi University should be ensured in all circumstances.
The arbitrary detention of only Gök and Özen, which suggests that they are targeted and being punished for being human rights defenders, should be ended urgently and unconditionally.
All criminal complaints and indictments against Gök, Özen and other participants of peaceful protests at the Boğaziçi University should be dropped.
All abuses against human rights defenders in Turkey should be stopped, and the conditions required for carrying out legitimate activities without fear of hindrance and retaliation should be provided alongside security and freedom of assembly rights.
All the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ratified on 9 December 1998 should be complied with.