Top court finds rights violation in expulsion of student from dormitory for participating in Newroz

In an unprecedented decision, Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that authorities had violated the rights of a university student by expelling him from a state dormitory for participating in a Newroz celebration in 2016.

Duvar English

The Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled that the expulsion of a university student from a state-run dormitory for participating in a Newroz celebration was a violation of his rights.

The top court ruled that the state pay 18,000 liras in non-pecuniary damages and 10,194 liras in costs and expenses to Bedran Ali Ertuğrul over the violation of the right to assembly and demonstration, according to reporting by online news outlet Artı Gerçek.

In 2016, Ertuğrul participated in a Newroz celebration held at the campus of Eskişehir Osmangazi University. Afterwards, the state-run dormitory where Ertuğrul was staying launched a disciplinary investigation against him on the grounds that “various slogans were shouted and incidents of violence occurred” at the Newroz celebration in question.

In his defense, Ertuğrul told the dormitory authorities that Newroz is celebrated every year in his hometown, he participated at the celebration when he saw the traditional folk dance halay being performed, that he did not know “the activity was illegal and that he left the scene when he found out about this situation.” Despite this defense, the state-run Student Loans and Dormitories Institution (KYK), under the Youth and Sports Ministry, ruled for the expulsion of the student from the dormitory.

Ertuğrul took this decision to the local courts which all declined his application. He later filed an application with the Constitutional Court, submitting that the KYK’s move was in violation of his rights, including the right to freedom of expression, right to assembly and demonstration, and right to a fair trial.