02/03/2021 | Writer: Yıldız Tar
The prosecutor’s office demanded 1 to 3 years of prison sentence for the students who were previously targeted by the Minister of Interior, Governorate of İstanbul, Head of Religious Affairs Administration, Presidential Spokesperson and Republican People's Party Spokesperson.
After smear campaigns and the arrest of two students, the indictment regarding the exhibition of anonymously collected artwork at Boğaziçi University is finalized.
The Prosecutor's Office prepared an indictment against 7 students, 2 of whom are under arrest, on the charge of "inciting the public to hatred and enmity", demanding imprisonment from 1 to 3 years each.
The indictment prepared by the Press Crimes Investigation Bureau of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office regarding the students targeted by the Minister of Interior, Governorate of İstanbul, Head of Religious Affairs Administration, Presidential Spokesperson and Republican People's Party Spokesperson, accused students with "public incitement to hatred and hostility".
Even though the investigation was initiated on the allegation of "publicly insulting the religious values adopted by a section of the people", two students got arrested for "inciting the people to hatred and enmity or defamation".
The indictment also stated that the investigation was initiated upon the "report" of Yeni Şafak newspaper and that the Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club was searched by the police within the scope of this investigation.
The indictment also includes statements such as "Images of homosexuality and similar sexual orientations, which are considered as haram and prohibited in Islamic religious literature", "A section of the population called LGBTI+", and "Inciting hatred and enmity among a section with different characteristics in terms of social class in sense of the Muslim citizens who constitute the vast majority of Turkish society”.
The first hearing of the students will be held on March 17 at the 21st Criminal Court of First Instance of İstanbul.
The process that started by the Boğaziçi Islamic Studies Club (BİSAK) with a smear campaign over a collage from an exhibition, turned into an intense hate campaign with increasing hate speech and slanders against LGBTI+'s.
The Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu said, "4 LGBT perverts were detained!" and committed hate speech against LGBTI+'s. The Governorate of Istanbul stated that the Boğaziçi University Fine Arts Club and Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club were searched too. The Governorate included having the "LGBTI flag" in the Boğaziçi University LGBTI + Studies Club to the report as "LGBTI flags and various posters and banners used in the protests were seized". Even though they did not constitute evidence of any crime, the LGBTI+ flags are taken from the club room by the police.
"We will take legal action against those who commit this disrespect," said Ali Erbaş, President of Religious Affairs Administration, on Twitter.
The rectorate of Boğaziçi University also launched an administrative investigation. In the statement made by the university, it was reported that an administrative investigation was initiated by the Rectorate regarding the said Kaaba image. Melih Bulu, the appointed rector of Boğaziçi University, said the following on his social media account:
“Attacking the holy symbols of Islam by a group of presumptuous people is by no means acceptable. This has no place in Boğaziçi values. A comprehensive investigation has been launched against those responsible for this incident.”
Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, said, “It is the order of God Almighty; 'keep my house clean from all dirt.' The law cannot tolerate the disrespect against our sacred Kaaba by these people whose hearts are rusted with hatred. An investigation was initiated by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office against this infamous act and a detention order is issued for the perpetrators”.
The statement of Presidency's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, which he called the protesters as "mad minority", is as follows:
“The main goal of the perverted way of thinking and life that the mad minority is trying to normalize under the pretext of freedom, equality, and human rights is to subvert our generations. Their only motivation is to desecrate our sacred ones. Images in Boğaziçi University are proof of this.
“We will never allow those who try to propagate immorality, insulting the saints, hatred, and terror as freedom. This mad minority with Blind eyes and sealed hearts, has also been condemned in the legitimate conscience of our nation. If we don't prevent your vile actions, then let us be doomed!"
The main opposition party CHP’s Spokesperson Faik Öztrak also targeted the students. Faik Öztrak, the Spokesperson and Vice-Chair of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), also shared a message on Twitter, which also sparked reactions:
"We cannot accept any attack or humiliation targeting the sacred values of humanity. We vehemently condemn this open provocation. We expect the seen and unseen responsible parties to be identified as soon as possible."
Campaigns involving intense hate speech and discrimination have started on Twitter via the tags #BoğazicindelgbtRezaleti (The LGBT Scandal at Boğaziçi) and #KabeKutsalimizdir (Kaaba is Our Sacred). Both tags took place in Turkey’s TT list of Twitter for almost a day.
Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın was among those who posted on social media with the tag #KabeKutsalimizdir:
"Disrespect to our holy Kaaba is neither freedom of expression nor right to demonstrate.
“This heresy will receive the punishment it deserves both before the law and in the righteous conscience.
“Your vile intentions and abusive actions are negligent, deceitful, and frustrating.
In this storm of hate speech, Mil-Diyanet Sen (Union of Religious Affairs Administration Workers) called for a campaign against the LGBTI+'s freedom of expression and organization by saying "We are giving a petition to the Ministry of Interior for the Closure of LGBT Associations". LGBTI + associations were targeted with the image circulating on social media with the signature of Mil-Diyanet Sen.
Two students were arrested, two students were released on condition of judicial control, and one student was released. Two students were arrested on the allegation of "inciting the public to hatred and enmity or humiliation", while the justification of the investigation was the allegation of "public humiliation of the religious values adopted by a section of the population".
A campaign against smear campaigns and hate speech started on Twitter with the hashtag #LGBTİHaklarıİnsanHaklarıdır (LGBTI Rights are Human Rights). Within the scope of the campaign that quickly entered the TT list, many politicians, political parties, artists, trade unions, professional associations and non-governmental organizations also sent tweets of solidarity.
The police attacked the press statement that Boğaziçi Solidarity wanted to make at the south gate of the university "against the trustees, LGBTI+ phobia, student arrests, all anti-democratic practices".
The police blocked the students from gathering and set up a barricade in front of the university gate. Hisarüstü, where the university is located, was blockaded. Armed policemen took positions in the vicinity of the buildings around the school. Police did not allow the students at Boğaziçi University to leave the campus.
After the school was blockaded and the Boğaziçi University students were prevented from going outside by the police, the students gathered around the Rectorate building and shouted "Resign". Students requested a meeting with Melih Bulu. Security personnel inside the campus attacked the students. 159 students were detained in the attacks that continued throughout the day.
A police officer shouting “You insolent, look down” while the students were being detained drew reactions on social media. On Twitter Turkey, hashtags #AşağıBakmayacağız (We will not look down) and #BoğaziçiAblukada (Boğaziçi under siege) entered the TT list.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that the "trustee Rector" Melih Bulu, who caused the protests, shut off the Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club. Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun shared the decision, which was not notified to club members, on social media.
According to the decision signed by Melih Bulu, the candidate status of Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club, which has been kept as a candidate club for a long time, has been canceled. The reason for this was the exhibition, which was not organized by the club and included works that came through an open call for artworks. In the directive, the exhibition was presented as if it was organized by the club.
Translation: Yiğit E. Korkmaz
Tags: human rights, education