152 students in Turkey sentenced to over 500 years in prison in 5 years: report

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Turkish courts handed down sentences totaling 506 years to 152 students between 2015 and 2019, according to a recent report released by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV).

The report, titled “Violations of Freedom of Expression, Assembly, Demonstration and Association Targeting Students (2015-2019),” revealed that the rights of 3,102 students in Turkey were violated between 2015 and 2019, while they were exercising their freedom of expression, assembly, demonstration and association.

While 2,077 students were detained due to attending civilian and political activities in the five-year period, 203 of those students were arrested, court cases were filed against 658 and 152 of them were handed down 506 years in total behind bars, the report said.

“In Turkey, the law is widely and systematically used as an instrument of oppression in order to narrow the scope of democratic citizenship. Events where ideas critical of the government and its policies are publicly expressed, peaceful protests and activities of dissident associations and opposition parties are criminalized by being turned into subjects of criminal investigation,” the TİHV argued.

Among the charges the most frequently pressed against the students who attended civilian and political activities in Turkey, according to the report, are “insulting the president,” “resisting an officer,” “disseminating propaganda for an illegal organization” and “membership in an illegal organization.”

The report emphasized that at least 23 students were killed between 2015 and 2019 while attending assemblies and demonstrations across the country.

“In the five years the report refers to, a total of 720 students were injured [in Turkey] in 84 different incidents,” the TİHV also stated, noting that 252 of those students were subjected to an attack on their university campuses.

According to the report, in 62 of those incidents, the attackers were police officers, while the offenders were groups of civilians in the remaining 22 cases.

Five percent of the incidents were caused by private security guards, while the students were attacked by both police officers and private security personnel in 3 percent of the cases, the report further indicated.

According to TİHV report, the 10 provinces in Turkey where students’ rights were violated the most were Ankara, İstanbul, İzmir, Antalya, Eskişehir, Adana, Diyarbakır, Mersin, Van and Kocaeli.

The top five campuses where the highest number of violations took place were Ankara University, İstanbul University, Ege University, Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) and Akdeniz University.

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