Turkish gov’t launches probe into ODTÜ students for unfurling rainbow flag at graduation

An investigation has been launched into more than 20 students at the Ankara-based Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) for unfurling a rainbow flag at the university’s graduation ceremony on July 7, the Diken news website reported on Monday.

The rainbow flag, commonly known as the gay pride flag or LGBT pride flag, is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements.

A group of students unfurled the rainbow flag when the university’s rector Verşan Gök was handing out diplomas at the graduation ceremony. The students reportedly received e-mails from the university telling them that unfurling rainbow flags were banned.

Speaking to KaosGL about the investigation, one student said, “A lot of students were actually carrying flags during the graduation ceremony, but, as we understood from the investigation process, they know that they can’t investigate that many people, so they decided to oppress the activists instead.”

“Especially in recent years, both students and academics have increased their support for the LGBTI+ rights struggle at ODTÜ, so authorities try to block this support with investigations,” the student said, adding: “They also try to marginalize us and criminalize our struggle. As we expressed during our pleas, protest is a democratic right and we exercised this right. The entire investigation process is anti-democratic and unfair. We have been accused, but we don’t know why. What is the crime here?”

Several other students from ODTÜ were jailed about a month ago for carrying banners at the graduation ceremony that allegedly insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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