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23 students detained for protesting switch to remote learning at Turkish universities

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Turkish police on Monday broke up a group of students in İstanbul protesting a recent decision by the government to shift to online learning at universities in order to free up dormitories for victims of the massive earthquakes that shook the country on Feb. 6, the ANKA news agency reported on Monday.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which struck near the city of Gaziantep as people slept, was followed by thousands of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.

According to the latest official figures, the quakes have killed more than 41,000 people across the 10 hardest-hit southeastern provinces.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)  came under fire after the president announced a decision on Feb. 11 to shift to online learning at universities in order to allocate state-run Higher Education Credit and Hostels Institution (KYK) dormitories to earthquake victims.

Twenty-three students were detained in Kadıköy after police officers intervened in a protest against the government’s online learning decision. Demonstrations had been banned by the district governor’s office on the grounds that they could “threaten social peace,” ANKA said.

MP Musa Piroğlu from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who participated in the protest, said the government, which failed to effectively mobilize its personnel to remove those who were under the rubble, was cracking down on everyone who criticizes its “crooked policies,” according to a report by the dokuz8haber news website.

In the wake of the earthquakes, Erdoğan and his government were also accused of poor performance in mobilizing enough people for the search and rescue efforts and a lack of coordination among the teams.

Many social media users also complained about the lack of basic necessities, such as water, blankets and tents as well as medical supplies.

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