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Turkey: 4 Pending Trials Sent to Jail Over Artwork Controversy

Aizbah KhanWeb Editor

07th Feb, 2021. 09:53 pm
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Turkey: 4 Pending Trials Sent to Jail Over Artwork Controversy

Four people have been formally arrested in Istanbul, Turkey, for displaying controversial artwork during the protest against a rector appointed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a university.

President Erdogan last month appointed Melih Bulu, a former candidate from his party Justice and Development Party (AKP), as the rector of Istanbul’s Bogazici University. Students and faculty members of the university opposed his appointment. Protests continue. He said that undemocratic procedure has been adopted at the time of appointment of the rector.

The Anatolian prosecutor’s office in Istanbul said the four men would remain in jail pending trial. They had previously been charged with various offences, including damage to government property and propaganda of terrorism. Two others have been placed under house arrest.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in Istanbul’s Kadikoy area this week in solidarity with protesting university students. Authorities arrested 165 people in the city in two days. Two of them were sent to prison.

According to Turkish officials, about 600 people have been detained since January 4, while protests have spread from Istanbul to Ankara. Most of those arrested have been released. The government has rejected the protesters’ criticism and He said that political motives were behind the protests.

Meanwhile, President Erdogan has approved the opening of two new departments at Benghazi University. Ali Babacan, a former ally and leader of the new political party DEVA, said in a TV interview that the new initiative President Erdogan’s allies will be able to be easily expelled from the university, as was done in some other institutions in the past.

During a protest movement by students and teachers in Turkey, some people shared photos showing a homosexual flag with a picture of the Kaaba, the holiest site for Muslims.

What is the matter and how did it start?

About a month ago, President Erdogan appointed Melih Bulu as the rector of Bogazici University in Istanbul. Bulu is considered very close to the ruling party. Teachers and students raised their voices against the appointment, calling it against freedom and democratic values ​​in the field of literature and education. Bulu was asked to resign, which he rejected.

The protests have intensified in recent weeks, with police cracking down on protesters. Now, in early February, the protest has taken the form of a formal movement and more than 600 people have been arrested nationwide. Most of the protesters were later released. Police used tear gas and baton charges in several places.

Global reaction?

The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have strongly condemned the use of force against protesters in Turkey. EU foreign policy chief Giuseppe Borrell issued a detailed statement on February 4, expressing deep concern over the situation in Turkey and the developments there. In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement issued on Friday, February 5, condemned the international reaction and demanded that Turkey’s internal affairs not be interfered with.

The Turkish Interior Ministry said this week that the 22 protesters had links to terrorist organizations. President Erdoآنan also described all the protesters as terrorists and said that strict action would be taken against those students who were found violating national and social sovereignty.

The role of homosexuals in protests?

The protest, which began at Istanbul’s most prestigious university, intensified when some students put up posters outside the office of the new rector, Melih Bulu, depicting the Islam’s holiest site with LGBTQ flags was displayed at the university. Many pictures on this subject were also shared on social media.

Homosexuality has nothing to do with the protest movement of Turkish students and teachers, but the highly controversial actions of a few have pushed the issue to the very centre of an educational controversy. President Erdogan also made a strong statement on Wednesday. “There is no such thing as LGBT,” he said. This country and society is based on ethics and will continue to be so in the future. ”

Earlier, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in a tweet that “four LGBT workers” had been arrested and their club at the university had been closed. European and US officials have condemned the use of language against LGBT in Turkey in the wake of the incident, calling it “hateful”.

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