Prior to the conduct of the METU Pride March on 10 June 2022, the METU administration sent an e-mail on 7 June to all the university’s students, attempting to prohibit the planned Pride march, stating that it ‘has been absolutely banned’ and threatening students with police intervention if they go ahead with their plans to have a peaceful demonstration.
The email claims that the university has a peaceful, productive, and creative academic environment, and that their reputation is being threatened by their students demonstrating in a nonviolent manner during Pride Month.
Choosing to exercise their right, the METU Pride March proceeded as planned on 10 June, and was met with police intervention. Footage and reports have surfaced on social media showing the police responding to students participating in the peaceful Pride Parade on campus with pepper powder balls and excessive use of force.
This is a disturbing repetition of the repression of the students’ freedom to protest, only three years ago. On 10 May 2019, the last time METU’s students and academic staff attempted to hold a peaceful Pride March in the campus, they were met with excessive police force, forbidden from marching and charged with “participating in an unlawful assembly” and “refusing to disperse despite being warned”. At least 21 students and staff were detained and 19 among them were prosecuted in a trial that ended with their acquittal in October 2021.
We have to understand what Pride means to people. At Pride you get be yourself, your full self. That’s an important feeling and it has a healing power.Özgür Gür
States have a positive obligation to facilitate peaceful assemblies in law and in practice. As is the case in Turkish law, the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is not subject to permission of government authorities, this right is also protected under international law and standards in conventions Turkey is a party to. Any decision to disperse an assembly should be taken only as a last resort and carefully in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality, that is only when there are no other means available to protect a legitimate aim which outweighs the right of people to assemble peacefully. In any such situation, police must, as far as possible, avoid any use of force and, in any event, must always restrict it to the minimum level necessary.
Sign the petition.
ASK METU RECTOR, Prof. Dr. Mustafa Verşan Kök, to speak in support of METU students.
Condemn the violent dispersal, facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of those detained and commit to respect uphold the freedom of assembly within the METU campus.