Turkish police detain 80 students protesting high housing prices

Eighty students who were spending the night in parks to protest high housing prices were detained by police Monday evening in İstanbul’s Moda Park and in western İzmir province, Turkish media reported.

A group of university students calling themselves the “We Can’t Shelter” movement staged their first vigil in Yoğurtçu Park on September 19, sleeping outdoors in protest of high dormitory and rental prices. Since then, the protest has spread among university students in various cities.

On the eighth day of the protests the police entered the park and beat the students while detaining them. According to a statement on the İstanbul Governor’s Office website, the students were released after questioning later in the evening.

Similar images were shared by students beaten and detained in İzmir. Students were pinned to the ground and handcuffed on their way to the police station.

The detentions came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted the students during a press conference following a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

“Lately, some people are protesting in parks by sleeping on benches, saying there is a student housing shortage. I’m going to be very frank: These people are not really students. These people are trying to start another Gezi Park protest,” he said.

During a speech last week he had said the protestors “were lying” as there were enough dormitories all across the country.

University students, who have returned to in-person education after COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed, have been protesting high rents and insufficient accommodation for weeks. According to the students, there are not enough dormitories in big cities such as İstanbul and İzmir, and rents are sky high, making it nearly impossible to find a place to stay.

Saying the government expects them to survive on a monthly TL 650 stipend in an increasingly expensive market, students have taken to the streets in many cities.

Speaking to Euronews Turkish service, one student, who did not disclose his name, said thousands of university students had no place to stay and that rental prices should be regulated by authorities. “Real estate agencies have unreasonably high commissions, and landlords are taking advantage of the housing shortage. The government needs to introduce new regulations and policies to prevent this,” he said.

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