Boğaziçi University students released after over three months in jail

A Turkish court on Jan. 7 released Boğaziçi University students Berke Gök and Caner Perit Özen who were jailed in October for attending protests against the government appointed rector.

Duvar English 

An Istanbul court on Jan. 7 released two students who were jailed on Oct. 6, 2021 in connection with their participation in a peaceful protest in front of the Boğaziçi University rectorate building.

The court ruled to place students Enis Berke Gök and Caner Perit Özen under judicial control. 

The first hearing of the case took place at the Istanbul 22nd Penal Court of First Instance on Jan. 7. Gök and Özen are among a total of 14 students who are facing charges of “not complying with orders by the security forces for the dispersal of an unlawful demonstration,” “deprivation of liberty”, “preventing public duty” and “hijacking or seizing transport vehicles.”

The students were battered by security guards at the premises of the university on Oct. 5, 2021 for protesting rector Naci İnci. They were subsequently arrested and taken to the Istanbul Police Station. Gök and Özen were imprisoned on Oct. 6, 2021, while other students were placed under judicial control measures.

During the hearing on Jan. 7, Özen said that his imprisonment was "political" and had a purpose of "intimidation." 

"We do not have a master to whom we have been giving an account, like is the case for trustees [referring to government-appointed rectors]," Özen said. 

Gök listed several rights violations pertaining to his detention and imprisonment. He said that the police had rear-handcuffed him while detaining him, and that jail authorities had refused to provide him with basic goods.

In front of the Çağlayan Courthouse, Boğaziçi University students held a statement of support for Gök and Özen, throwing slogans of "Let prisons be destroyed, freedom for hostages" and "We don't want a trustee rector." 

After the appointment of Prof. Dr. Melih Bulu as the rector by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in January 2020, the university's students launched a protest demanding his resignation.

Following months-long protest, Bulu was eventually dismissed from his duty by Erdoğan in July. A month later in August, again via a presidential decree, it was Prof. Naci İnci who assumed duty as the rector of the prestigious institution despite the high disapproval rates he received on polls held among the community.

Academics and students are continuing with their protest against İnci's appointment.