Turkish police release 98 out of 159 detainees in university protest

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Turkish police released ninety-eight of 159 people detained on Monday during protests at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday.

The authorities freed the demonstrators after they provided statements, Anadolu said. An investigation continued, it said, citing a statement by the Istanbul governor’s office.

Turkish riot police swooped on Boğaziçi’s campus, located on the European side of Istanbul, late on Monday in a latest attempt to break up four weeks of protests. The demonstrations began after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed a party loyalist as rector of the university, bypassing an election by university staff.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu blamed the demonstration on so-called “LGBT deviants” in a message on Twitter on Tuesday. He also said students should not fall into a trap set by leftist politicians and that he expected them to achieve academic success and to prepare for the “Grand and Strong Turkey”.

Boğaziçi University is Turkey’s most prominent higher education institution. It is known for its secular traditions and many of its students oppose the politics of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is an offshoot of a banned Islamic movement.

Two students were hospitalised on Monday night after police beat them in custody, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

Police entered the university after the city governor’s office banned meetings, rallies, marches, concerts sit-ins and other public gatherings for a month on Monday morning, citing measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

In echoes of the Gezi Park protests of 2013, residents of a neighbourhood adjacent to the university, who include students, stood at windows banging pots and pans on Monday in support of the protests, local media including the Duvar news website reported. The Gezi Park protests, initially held against planned construction at a park in central Istanbul, turned into a nationwide movement against the government that was eventually quashed by police.

Ahval

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