Another student arrested on bogus charges over Boğaziçi protests

A former student of Boğaziçi University, Beyza Buldağ, was arrested over managing the social media account of Boğaziçi Solidarity, although she doesn't actually do so. Buldağ said that she handed the management of the account to other students when she transferred out of Boğaziçi, and the account is used almost exclusively for the protests against Erdoğan's rector appointment

An illustration of Buldağ reading "Release Beyza" in Turkish quickly flooded social media after her arrest on Feb. 8.

Duvar English

University student Beyza Buldağ was detained and arrested on Feb. 7 on charges of inciting violence through a social media account called Boğaziçi Solidarity, which she opened a year ago and doesn't manage anymore.

A former Boğaziçi student, Buldağ opened the social media account in February 2020, and handed its management over to someone else when she transferred to Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, she said in a statement to the prosecutor.

Buldağ was detained in a home raid back in her İzmir residence, transported to Istanbul and arrested on charges of "inciting violence" on the grounds of the open letter to the president that the Boğaziçi Solidarity account released. 

Nowadays, the Boğaziçi Solidarity social media account is mostly used for the Boğaziçi community's ongoing protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Jan. 2 appointment of party member Melih Bulu as rector to the prestigious university.

Most recently, Erdoğan issued a presidential decree to open a law school and a communications faculty within Boğaziçi University in an attempt to increase the portion of faculty members who support the undemocratically appointed Bulu. 

In response, the Boğaziçi community released an open letter reiterating their demand for Bulu's immediate resignation and said that President Erdoğan's overactive agenda regarding their university was "a sign of the political crisis" he was in. 

Despite her statement that she wasn't in charge of the social media account in question, Buldağ was arrested on the grounds that "the cyber crimes department noted the account could belong to the suspect."

"Solid evidence proving that she committed the crime in question, the fact that digital evidence collected from [Buldağ] hasn't been processed, the incompletion of the evidence collection process and strong evidence that [Buldağ] could escape," were cited as reasons why the student was arrested.

Probation was deemed insufficient by the prosecutor's office, even though Buldağ said in her statement that she wanted to be released to be able to take her exams, which meant that she wouldn't be traveling, she added. 

The charges brought against Buldağ were met with outrage across the country, with the hashtag "Release Beyza" becoming a trending topic on Twitter within arrest.

"Beyza was arrested on bogus, made-up charges. To the AKP chairman who thinks he is the 12th president," Workers Party (TİP) deputy Barış Atay tweeted. "We will not kneel this way, but this will crush you! You are pushing our limits!"

"[Arrest] deemed necessary, meaning 'we couldn't come up with a crime, so we made one up,'" tweeted journalist Mustafa Hoş on Feb. 7, referring to the official statement the Istanbul Governor's Office made about Buldağ.

One social media user noted the double standards employed by the Turkish judiciary by recalling the treatment received by Ümitcan Uygun, the prime suspect in the murder of a 21-year-old woman who was only detained seven months later on drug charges. 

"This man was arrested for using drugs even though he was a known murderer. Beyza... Beyza didn't commit any crimes, was never convicted of a crime and she was arrested in less than a day," tweeted one user with pictures of Uygun and Buldağ next to each other. 

Buldağ brings the total number of Boğaziçi-related arrests to 9, although hundreds of students, politicians and civilians were battered, assaulted and detained for their support of the cause in the past week alone.