Testimonies of Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) students facing an investigation for attending last year’s LGBTI+ pride march on the campus have revealed that they were subjected to torture and sexual abuse by the police and threatened with strip search, according to reporting by online news outlet MLSA.
On June 2022, police attacked a pride march held on the campus of ODTÜ, detaining and battering several of the students. The march was held by the university's long-running LGBTI+ organization Solidarity Club after a two-year hiatus. Afterwards, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation against the 37 detained students.
Students currently face charges of “attending an unauthorized demonstration,” “resisting the officials on duty,” and “obstruction of educational activities.”
The newly unveiled reports record the detained students’ testimonies about the torture they have been subjected to on the day of the pride march. One of the students said in his testimony that while walking on the grass, the riot police behind them started to attack without any warning. While fleeing the police violence, they were thrown to the ground by three policemen, and riot police stepped on their back with their knees.
The student said that a policeman sprayed pepper gas in his face despite being detained and that they were put in the car in rear-handcuffing. While he was being taken to the police station after the hospital examination, a police officer reportedly said to the students: "Don't worry, you will feel worse. I hope you will be even more tired mentally.”
According to their testimonies, the students were made to wait in the police vehicle for seven hours and were sexually abused by the police during the body search. Afterwards, a policeman reportedly said, “We can even conduct a strip search if it is necessary.
When one of the students warned that this was “unlawful,” the police officer in question reportedly replied: “It is not for me, I can even touch your private parts.” The student was sexually abused during the body search.
Another student also said that they were subjected to rear-handcuffing and psychical violence. Even though they said that they could not breathe, the police officers reportedly kept pushing students with their knees. One of the policemen reportedly said, “Think before you come here (pride march).” Another policeman pulled the student’s hair and said to them, “See the power of the state!”
Another police officer beat a student’s head with a stone, leaving it in blood. Also, another student was beaten very harshly by one of the police officers in the back of the official vehicle.
The newly unveiled documents have also revealed that ODTÜ Rector Verşan Kök sent a letter titled "Security Precaution” to the police forces on June 9, 2022 in which he claimed “the safety of life and property may be endangered and public property may be damaged” during the march.
As part of the ongoing investigation, the police forces have penned a report with regards to the issue in which they said "security precautions" on the day of the pride march had been taken upon the ODTÜ rector’s demand.
Investigation records define the students’ LGBTI+ march as a “so-called pride march” and refer to the marchers as “persons involved in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex (LGBTI+) organization.”