27 students get jail sentences for protesting Turkish military operation in Afrin

People demonstrate outside the Caglayan courthouse on June 6, 2018 in Istanbul with banners reading "Freedom for Bogazici" as a trial opens today of 21 students from Bogazici University described by Turkey's President as "terrorists" after they opposed the Turkish military operation in Syria launched in January 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Yasin AKGUL

An İstanbul court has handed down prison sentences to 27 students from Turkey’s prestigious Boğaziçi University on terrorism charges due to a protest they staged against a Turkish military operation in the Afrin region of Syria, according to Turkish media reports.

Thirty students stood trial, three of whom were acquitted while 27 were convicted and sentenced to of 10 months in prison on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda. Twenty of the sentences were suspended at the latest hearing before the İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court on Friday.

The protest took place in March 2018 when a group of students at İstanbul’s Boğaziçi University held a rally in support of Turkey’s offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in the northern Syrian region of Afrin and also distributed Turkish delight from a stand on the campus.

A rival group of students then staged a counter-rally with a banner that read “Invasion, massacre cannot be marked with Turkish delight,” prompting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to call them “terrorists” and authorities to launch an investigation.

The prosecutors who indicted the students said they had acted in line with Kurdish militants and had attempted “to portray the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces as forces that were invading and using violence, and therefore engaging in illegitimate actions in the region.”

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