The Turkish state are in the process of closing down all channels of democracy and opposition to the Erdogan regime, especially since the attempted military coup, thousands of teachers, academics, lawyers, journalists and students have been arrested and imprisoned, all due to the governments expanded definition of ‘terrorism’. Just two days ago, 370 NGOs were shut down overnight, these included many women’s and children’s rights organisations.
The situation in Turkey is getting more worrisome by day. Unfortunately, students seem to be the most affected by this clamp down and decreasing human rights, they do not have an organised union or body to defend them and raise awareness to their situation.
It is our duty, at UK universities, with relative freedom of expression to be in solidarity with Kurdish students in Turkey. The UK student movement with its rich history of internationalism and solidarity, must continue this tradition with the necessary solidarity and support for students at Turkish university, who have a non-existent freedom of political expression.
We must use our networks to build a strong campaign to, first and foremost, bring awareness to the situation these students are subject to under the oppressive Turkish state. We must fight for the ‘freedom of political expression’ for out counterparts at Turkish universities.
Ipek Ozel is a lecturer at Bilgi University, Faculty of Communications. She specialises in communications, ethnographic research strategy and leadership. She has been involved in student trials for the last 4 years, she is a McKenzie friend for 2 students who stay in high security F type prisons, sentenced to 16 and 7 years respectively.
Margaret Owen is a barrister specialising in women’s human rights. She has previously worked as an immigration and asylum lawyer, as head of the Law and Policy division of International Planned Parenthood Federation, and as a consultant to various UN organisations. She is a patron of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign. Margaret recently visited one of the trial hearings for a Kurdish student, she will be reporting on her experience.
Elif Sarican is a postgraduate student at the London School of Economics and a coordinator for the Kurdistan Students Union – UK.
Dana Sarkout is a student at SOAS university and one of the SOAS Students’ Union Anti-Racism officers.