Turkey: Farcical criminal charges against students who celebrated Pride must be dropped

 

Ahead of tomorrow’s trial of 18 students and an academic for their participation in a pride parade that had been banned by authorities at the Middle East Technical University (METU) last May, Sara Hall, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Europe said:

Last spring, students peacefully participating in a celebration of love and solidarity had to face police pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas
Sara Hall, Amnesty International

“Last spring, students peacefully participating in a celebration of love and solidarity had to face police pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas. Today they are being dragged through the courts on baseless criminal charges.

The ban of the Pride march lacks legal grounds
Sara Hall, Amnesty International

“The ban of the Pride march lacks legal grounds and these brave students and others who defied it had their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly violated. All charges against them must be dropped.”

Background

On 10 May 2019, METU Pride was violently broken up by police using pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas. At least 22 people were unlawfully detained on the university campus.

18 of them and an academic are facing baseless criminal charges under the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations for allegedly ‘refusing to disperse’, an offence which can land a prison sentence of between six months to three years. One student is also facing a charge for ‘insult’ for alleged hand gestures directed at a police officer, which can carry a prison sentence of three months to two years.