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.”