‘Modern shackles’: home detentions for Boğaziçi protesters

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In recent years, home detention has become a common punitive measure in Turkey, especially against opponents the government, despite it usually being applied to perpetrators of violence.

Lately, the supporters of the Boğaziçi protests are suffering from the home detentions, imprisoned behind the walls by electronic clamps attached to their wrists.

The rectorship appointment of Melih Bulu, a long time member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to Boğaziçi University, Turkey’s top academic institution, by a presidential decree in early January has led to resounding protests. Thousands of students and academics demonstrated against the appointment. Police have apprehended hundreds of people in the nationwide protests.

At least 41 Boğaziçi protestors are in home detention, according to an article published in the left-wing news site Artı Gerçek, penned by lawyers Yelda Koçak and Selin Nakıpoğlu. What is noteworthy is that this sentence has only been imposed on 201 perpetrators of violence over the past nine years.

Home detainees are facing a lot of problems, such as becoming dependent on others to meet their personal needs. Even for urgent needs such as hospital care, they can be outside just for a limited period.

However, they didn’t give up on their struggle, despite their confined possibilities.

Various ways of protests by the students along with the clamps on their wrists, continue to be admired and shared by thousands of social media users.

So, what sort of protest can be done while in home detention?

A home detainee Melis Akyürek, a supporter of the protests told Ahval that she has put a miniature LGBT flag on her clamp to show solidarity with the LGBT students that have been “demonised” by government officials during the protests.

Another day, she has put a Boğaziçi University emblem on the clamp, Akyürek said.

“I am trying to raise my voice via social media. Even though we are under home detention, we will continue to fight against injustice and show our solidarity to the protests.”

“The violence and hatred speech perpetrators, women murderers are out, while us, the defenders of the freedom of universities are in detention,” said another home detainee student Hivda Selen.

Drawing attention to the troubles they are experiencing in this process, “many of us were working in a job in order to maintain ourselves financially, alongside our studies. Now, they are the ones suffering from economic difficulties,” Selen said.

However, they didn’t give up on their resistance, she said.

“We expose our situation by writing various slogans and phrases on electronic clamps and sharing them via social media, while attending all the online protests.”

Another home detainee, an Istanbul University graduate Cihat Parıltı told Ahval that the ruling power is aiming to scare and intimidate them with those electronic clamps, “that’s why I think staying strong and resilient will be the greatest resistance,” saying.

As an actor and as an instructor, he cannot work under the current circumstances, which hurts financially, Parıltı said, who describes the home detentions as “modern shackles.”

Among the detainees, journalist Pınar Gayıp told Ahval that the anger that has accumulated in all sections has been revealed with the resistance of Boğaziçi. “People surrounded the streets against anti-democratic practices and lawlessness,” she said.

According to Gayıp, home detention is an attempt of intimidating the street actions and to break the protesters’ wills.

“However, they only imprisoned us physically. They cannot imprison the pens of us journalists and the faith of the activists.”

Ahval

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