The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recalls that the protests are of a peaceful nature, while the police use "excessive force". Students protest against the appointment of an Erdogan loyalist as dean of Boğaziçi University. Officers arrested 250 people, dozens are detained.
Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has launched an appeal to the Turkish government and to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to demand the release of dozens of students and LGBTI + rights activists arrested in recent weeks.
In a message on social media, the office led by Michelle Bachelet states: " We call for prompt release of students and protestors arrested for participating in peaceful demonstrations, and urge the police to stop using excessive force."
For about a month, young people and human rights groups have taken to the streets against the appointment of Melih Bulu, a person with inadequate skills and chosen on the basis of his loyalty to Erdogan as dean of Boğaziçi University, one of the main educational institutions in Turkey. Demonstrations have intensified in recent days, following the arrest of over 250 people by police inside the university and in other parts of the country, including Ankara and Izmir.
Dozens of students are still under arrest. They face trial and jail.
" We condemn homophobic & transphobic comments by officials, inciting hatred and discrimination against LGBT people” - continues the note from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The reference is to comments and messages on social networks, some of which blocked or reported by the managers themselves, posted by leading personalities including President Erdogan himself and the Turkish Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu.
On February 2, officers in riot gear forcibly dispersed hundreds of young people gathered in protest in the Kadiköy district, on the Asian side of Istanbul. In the evening at least 104 people were interrogated in Kadiköy, Sariyer and Besiktas on the European side of the economic and commercial capital of Turkey.
Several residents of the three districts joined the university and activists, honking their horns and banging pots and dishes together. In response, Erdogan added fuel to the fire by branding the demonstrators as "vandals" and invoking the iron fist of the police.
The University demonstrations represent one of the rare open challenges to President Erdogan's power in recent years. After the night of an attempted military coup in the summer of 2016 in which 250 people died, when the AKP leader's power wavered, the government launched a veritable witch hunt.
Tens of thousands of opponents were targeted – activists, leading figures at home and abroad, military, judges, teachers, intellectuals – for membership, real or imagined, in the movement of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, accused of being the mastermind of the failed coup.
Since the start of the protests, the president has also said several times that he does not want pro LGBTI youth in the country, extolling the "national and spiritual" values linked to Islam. Fahrettin Altun, Erdogan’s director of communications, defined gay and trans rights activists as a "savage minority" that promotes "immorality as freedom".