Wednesday, March 21, 2012

“Students are forced not to be oppositional”

The students, the friends of whom had been arrested, spoke to the HaberVs team about the “climate of fear and control” that they are living in.

At the panel on “Fear, Control, Punishment,” which was held at Bogazici University on March 14, the ongoing arrests at the universities were discussed.
Assistant Professor Vangelis Kechriotis from Bogazici's History Department moderated talks by journalist Pınar Öğünç, attorney Deniz Gedik, Assoc. Professor Zeynep Gambetti from the Department of Political Sciences at Bogazici University and Ahmet Saymadi from TODI (Initiative for Solidarity with Students in Prison).

“Students can make even more radical demands”
Ahmet Saymadı, stated that 90 percent of the arrested students are Kurdish and have participated in the activities of BDP [Peace and Democracy Party], while the remaining 10 percent consists of students, who are members of left-wing organizations: “We are not surprised that the 90 percent of the arrested students are Kurdish. It is not an anomaly in the grander scheme of things in our country. The legal rights that were previously achieved by students, women, Kurds, Alewis and workers through a struggle in solidarity are being taken away. In the legal indictments of all of the arrested students are listed such acts as partaking in legal protests, engaging in political activity, participating in political discussions, and being oppositional. I believe that in any platform and under any circumstance people should be able to engage in politics, to stand in opposition to the government, and, in fact, be able to have even more radical demands. These cannot be regarded as criminal activities. Repression has taken a different form today. In the past there were [so-called] disappearances under detention and custody. Maybe we do not have as many disappearances as we had then, and yet, so many of the things we do are now as reason for arrest.

“Students are forced to not to be oppositional”

Pinar Ogunc started her speech by stating how much she appreciated the title of panel and how great a job she thought it does of elucidating the recent events. Ogunc pointed out that the ongoing arrests and repression of the students are not new [phenomena] and that students have always been repressed: “This process started with Ittihat ve Terakki. Back then students were arrested as well as teachers and professors. In the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s the situation was all the same. They try to keep students’ ideas and behaviors under control. Students are forced not to be oppositional.”

“New Crimes are being invented”
Deniz Gedik, having expressed that we no longer know why people are getting arrested or what is considered as crime, elaborated the change as follows: “In the old days it was not a crime to put up posters in public. Nowadays those who put up posters are listed by the police and later on interrogated. In that sense the legal system has taken on yet another level of operation. The AKP government has been the using legal system as its punitive body, and terrorism as a tool for marginalization. Students attending March 8 International Women’s Day celebrations [for example] have been identified and gone under investigation. Participating in this celebration is a most basic right of women, but instead we have friends who regret having participated in this event."

To read the full report on HaberVSvisit here.