(This article has been updated from paragraph 8.)
Turkey’s government said foreign powers should refrain from interfering in its internal affairs, urging them to “look in the mirror” after the United States criticised human rights violations during student protests in the country.
The right to assembly, protest and freedom of expression are guaranteed under Turkey’s constitution, but those rights have been exceeded after terrorist organisations infiltrated the demonstrations, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.
“Necessary and proportionate measures have been taken against these illegal acts,” it said. “We recommend that those who are attempting to give our country a lesson in democracy and law look in the mirror.”
Turkish police have rounded up hundreds of demonstrators protesting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of a party loyalist to head Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University, the country’s top academic institution, in early January. The protests have spread from Turkey’s largest city to the capital Ankara and the western city of Izmir. Students have complained of police beatings and torture. Most have been released from custody.
Erdoğan and his interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, have blamed the protests on leftist terrorist groups and the local LGBT community, describing the latter as “deviants” who do not represent Turkey’s youth. On Tuesday, Twitter attached a warning about hateful conduct to two posts by Soylu, who oversees the police, for comments targeting LGBT activists.
“We are closely monitoring peaceful demonstrations against the appointment of a new rector at Bogazici University in Turkey,” U.S. State Department Spokesman Edward Price said in a statement published on Thursday. “We are concerned by the detentions of students and other demonstrators and strongly condemn the anti-LGBTQI rhetoric surrounding the demonstrations.”