Nationwide protests have erupted after the death of a student, Zeren Ertaş, in a faulty elevator at a government-run student dormitory in Aydın, Turkey. Labour Party Vice President and MP Sevda Karaca quickly criticised the government’s “lethal agenda for the youth”.
The incident occurred on Wednesday evening at a KYK (Credit and Dormitories Agency) dormitory in the Efeler district of Aydın. Aydın Governor Yakup Canbolat confirmed that criminal and administrative investigations are underway, led by the Republic Prosecutor’s Office.
Sevda Karaca, in a comprehensive tweet, stated, “We mourn the loss of our sister Zeren Ertaş, who lost her life when the elevator carrying 16 students in the Aydın Güzelhisar Girls’ Dormitory fell. The students’ slogan ‘Murderer KYK’ exposes the death trap this government has set for the youth.” She further added that a decrease in the number of KYK dormitories from 793 in 2020 to 776 in 2022 has led to overcrowding. “Students are forced to live in prison-like rooms, with worm-infested food, and bathrooms without running water,” she said. Karaca also highlighted that while students are subjected to these horrendous conditions, the number of dormitories run by religious foundations had increased by 93 percent in 2022, with the Youth and Sports Ministry allocating over 563 million TL to associations in the same year. “Allocate budget for the survival of young people, not for sects and communities,” she urged.
Students from Ege University and other institutions took to the streets, demanding better living conditions in these dormitories. Police arrested several protesters for marching without permission, chanting slogans like “Murderer KYK” and “Silence will get you next”.
The Youth and Sports Ministry announced the suspension of the dormitory manager and initiated further investigations. Students allege that similar incidents had occurred before but were ignored despite complaints.
Various civil society organisations, including the Aydın Bar Association, have also lent their support to the student protests. The students vow to continue their demonstrations until those responsible for the hazardous conditions are held accountable.