Ankara students press charges against police after being beaten up during protest

A group of 25 students pressed charges against police officers who beat them up whilst disbanding a protest on March 4 against Turkey's loans and dormitories authority. The students said all student housing and food expenses should be free.

Serkan Alan / Duvar

University students in Turkey's capital pressed charges against police officers who violently disbanded a press conference they held on March 4 to protest the state's higher education funding authority Directorate of Credits and Dormitories (KYK).

"We can't pay off KYK loans. We start life in a pile of debt. Our friends' KYK loan payments are cut off and they are condemned to poverty. Shelter and food expenses for all students should become free," said the students at the press conference they held at the alumni association of Ankara University's Faculty of Political Science (Mülkiye).

The students also said they had made an official complaint about the police officers who beat them up while dispersing the gathering. Their lawyer Mert Ekinci said the students were "unlawfully repressed."

"The detention process was brutal. We couldn't meet with some of our clients until 11 p.m. midnight...We were told students were kept shackled behind their backs in hospital," Ekinci said.

One of the students who was detained, Çağla Çakır, said the police held 25 of them in custody.

"We went through everything from harassment to verbal insults during our detention. They wanted us to have a police officer present during the doctor's examination," Çakır said. "We just want to live in a human way and we will not falter in our struggle for this."

Turkey's Human Rights Association (İHD) was also present at the press conference where the Ankara Branch's Co-Chair Fatin Kanat noted the importance of the students' demands.

"A university is only a university with human rights. İHD stands by the students," Kanat said.