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At the graduation ceremony of the Middle East Technical University (METU) in the capital city of Ankara on July 6, students carried banners posing criticisms to the developments in the country. Three students who carried one of those banners were taken into custody on July 7.
In a house raid conducted by the police yesterday (July 8), the Student Representatives Council Chair of the university Özgür Mehmet Gür was also detained as part of the investigation. Gür was taken to the Security Branch Office of the Ankara Security Directorate. Gür, who is also a member of the METU LGBTI+ Solidarity, was released after giving his deposition today.
After the three students who carried the banners and the Student Representatives Council Chair of the university were detained, two other people who were accused of preparing and printing the banner in question were also detained on charge of "insulting the president."
The caricature "was acquitted"
On the banner which caused the students to be taken into custody, there was a caricature which was originally published on the Penguen magazine in 2004. Under the heading of the "Kingdom of Tayyips", the caricature depicts the President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an elephant, giraffe, monkey, camel, frog, snake and duck.
Erdoğan filed a claim for immaterial compensation of 40 thousand YTL (New Turkish Lira). The conviction was overturned by the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2006.
Statement by the METU Presidency
In a written statement issued by the presidency of the university, it was stated that "insulting Erdoğan is a crime." The presidency also announced that the investigations and evaluations regarding the incidents were immediately initiated and have been continuing.
METU Alumni Association denounced the detentions
The administrative board of the METU Alumni Association also made a statement regarding the detention of the students. The association stated,
"A banner, where there is a caricature, against which a court case was filed after being published for 13 years and which was acquitted, has been chosen among the thousand others and our three alumni friends have been taken into custody. Our friends, who used their freedoms of expression, should be immediately released.
"It is evident that an understanding which cannot stand freedom of expression and the right to criticism, which is the most fundamental human right, cannot dominate the METU." (HK/SD)