Court in western Turkey sentences 4 activists over Boğaziçi protests

A Turkish court in İzmir has handed down varying prison sentences to four people due to their attendance at a gathering in support of Boğaziçi University protests, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Wednesday.

The court convicted the four defendants on charges of attending an unsanctioned gathering and resisting the police while acquitting two others who stood trial on the same charges.

The defendants were detained in February 2021 while holding a press conference in İzmir to express support for the protests taking place at Boğaziçi University against the appointment of a pro-government rector.

Among them were lawyer Erdoğan Akdoğdu and human rights defender Aytül Uçar from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV).

Their lawyer, Nehir Bilece, denounced the trial, which she described as part of a policy to encroach upon the right to demonstrate enshrined in Turkey’s constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, to make rights violations invisible and to perpetuate impunity.

A prolonged series of protests took place at İstanbul‘s Boğaziçi University, one of Turkey’s most prestigious schools, after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed Melih Bulu, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Sarıyer district branch and former deputy chairman of the AKP’s İstanbul provincial bureau, as rector in January 2021.

Student protests were violently suppressed by the police, and hundreds of students who took part in them later faced criminal prosecution over their participation.

Bulu was ultimately dismissed by a presidential decree in July 2021 and subsequently replaced by Naci İnci, one of his former deputies.

University staff members have been standing with their backs turned to the rectorate building every day in protest of the presidentially appointed rectors.

İnci has suspended several academics over their participation in these protests held on the campus.

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