Emrah Tüncer, İstanbul – The mass hearing of 29 students from Boğaziçi University over a protest criticizing Turkish foreign policy which they organized on March 19 2018 was held today at İstanbul 32. High Criminal Court.
15 observers were allowed into the hearing in addition to the 29 defendants, whose names are Agah Suat Atay, Berke Aydoğan, Deniz Yılmaz, Enes Karakaş, İsmail Gürler, Mete Ulutaş, Tevger Uzay Tula, Yusuf Noyan Öztürk, Zülküf İbrahim Erkol, Esen Deniz Üstündağ, Kübra Sağır, Sevde Öztürk, Şükran Yaren Tuncer, Ali İmran Şirin, Denizhan Eren, Emir Eray Karabıyık, Hamza Dinçer, İbrahim Musab Curabaz, Kültigin Demirlioğlu, Mustafa Ada Kök, Onur Eren, İrem Gerkuş, Elif Nur Aybaş, Ozan Yaman, Ayşe İdil Ügüt, Bektaş Deneri, Damla Uyar, Ekim Devrim Çapartaş and Oğuzcan Ünlü.
Many of the students based their defense on the argument that the protest was valid and lawful political criticism. “Joining the protest must be considered as a political criticism,” said Gerkuş. “I request my acquittal.” Ügüt remarked that the accusations were shameful in a period when global rates of violence are rapidly rising. Denerii who could not remember the slogans he shouted, confirmed his belief that the slogans of the crowd were legitimate and that criticizing the foreign policy of the state is not a crime.
The students are subject to a ban on overseas travel while the court considers their case. Uyar, who noted that she specifically disapproved of Turkish actions in Afrin, Syria, requested that her ban be lifted as she had been accepted into the Erasmus program. Other students, such as Ünlü, noted that this protest – as with others which they had been involved with – was peaceful and requested acquittal on that basis.
Nine students requested the return of material they owned which had been seized by the government.
The court conferred during a ten minute recess, and chose to lift the overseas travel ban. The court refused to order the return of the seized materials, and adjourned the hearing until March 19 2019.
Updated: November 30 2018