Police raid wrong house in search for protestors, pin down disabled woman

A disabled woman was allegedly pinned to the ground by police who entered her home by breaking down her door in a dawn raid yesterday in search of students who had participated in protests at Boğaziçi University, the Sendika news website reported.

The police used a hammer to break down the door instead of ringing the doorbell. They entered the house armed and shouted out the name of the student. The residents said no such person was living there, but the police allegedly gave a vague response, saying the student “had been seen on their street.”

The student was not an official resident of the house, and the police did not have a search warrant. Upon entering the house, they pinned everyone to the ground while they thoroughly searched the premises, after which the disabled woman reportedly became faint.

After the police left, the owners of the house saw that the door was broken. However, the police filed an official report that stated the house had sustained no damage during the raid.

Images have been circulating on social media showing İstanbul police and SWAT teams in full gear launching house raids on students’ homes. The police have been criticized by journalists and activists for using excessive force against the students.

Turkish authorities detained 16 university students who protested the government’s decision to appoint Melih Bulu as rector of Boğaziçi University on Tuesday morning. The police detained six more students in dawn operations and the number is expected to go up according to BBC Turkish service.

Students were protesting the appointment of a rector with close ties to the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) who was not a member of the staff in front of the university campus and clashed with the police.

Prominent human rights activist and deputy from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said at a press conference that police force against students proved that Turkey had become a “police state.” He said it was the constitutional right of university students to express their political opinions and their views about the new appointment.

Ezgi Önalan, the lawyer for the detained students, said in a video posted on Twitter that the students were subjected to unlawful strip-search and were beaten in the detention center. She said the students had medical reports that confirmed the beating. Önalan added that the police had forcefully entered the students’ homes, and images of broken doors and damaged property were shared on Twitter.

Another lawyer, Eren Keskin, said on Twitter that she was prevented from seeing the detained students who were held at Istanbul’s Vatan police station. She said the police told her that “higher authorities” did not want her to see the detainees.

Critics slammed the appointment of Bulu, saying he was unqualified for the job and that a state-appointed rector harmed the independence of the university.

Boğaziçi University alumni living in abroad have signed a petition saying that they will not accept a state-appointed rector, which fundamentally damaged the independence of the university.

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