10 students detained in PM protest, minister circuses excessive use of force
Ten students in Ankara have been detained for their alleged involvement in a clash with police after staging a protest against a visit by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to their university on Tuesday, with the interior minister admitting that police officers sometime use a disproportionate amount of force.

Teams from the Ankara Police Department's counterterrorism unit raided the students' housing blocks early on Friday and took 10 of them into custody. Two blank-firing guns were also seized during the raids, according to reports.

The Ankara Prosecutor's Office launched the investigation after a group of leftist students at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara (ODTÜ) protested the visit by Erdoğan, who had gone to the university to attend a ceremony and watch the broadcasted launch of Göktürk-2, Turkey's second domestically made Earth observation satellite, from China. Police were the subject of severe criticism for using excessive force against the students, reportedly using pepper gas and water cannons against the protesting students to prevent them from approaching the ceremony hall.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin admitted that police officers sometimes use a disproportionate amount of force and are being rightly criticized.

"This casts a shadow over the image of both the state and its police forces. Of course police forces should be careful for not to use excessive force when fulfilling their duties. They are supposed to keep incidents under control using as little force as possible. And this is made possible only through training," Şahin stated.

Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies Emine Ülker Tarhan and Levent Gök meanwhile claimed after the incident that Barış Barışık, one of the students involved in the protest, had suffered a brain hemorrhage after being hit by a tear gas canister thrown by police. However, a police investigation revealed that Barışık was actually injured by a stone thrown by his friends during the clash. However, Tarhan said it is common practice for the state to defend its act by saying a person was injured by a stone. It is a typical defense used by the state, she said.

In an apparent response, the Ankara Police Department released a statement on Friday dismissing the claims that its officers had used excessive force against the protesters. The department blamed on the university's rector, saying it was the private security guards employed by the rector who had allowed students from other universities to attend without fully searching them.

"A group of 500 students who had covered themselves with berets, hats, scarves and hoods in order not to be identified attacked the police with stones, Molotov cocktails, batons and soda bottles," the department's statement read, adding that 15 police officers had sustained injuries during the clashes.

Bahçeli: Media does not report university incidents accurately

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli criticized the media on Friday, saying it does not report protests or clashes at universities accurately, and this may further provoke people.

The MHP head said media outlets often cover clashes among university students, announcing, "University students from opposing views clashed." However, this does not reflect the truth, he added. "When you say students from opposing views, people will think of students from right and left wing [ideology]. It will imply that a clash had erupted between revolutionists and idealists. But today, neither the revolutionists nor the idealists want such a conflict. The media only provokes people further with such reports."

He also noted that most fights among university students are provoked by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Speaking about a protest that recently took place at Ankara University, Bahçeli stated: "Scientists were invited to a seminar at the university. In an attempt to prevent the dean from giving a speech, PKK terrorists tried to raid the [seminar hall]. Police forces and the university's security officers then got involved. However, this incident was reported as a 'clash between opposing views' on TV screens. This was an incorrect perception. The true news would be that the PKK had attacked a university where students were attending a scientific event. We expect media outlets to express nothing but the truth."

He further said that there are many deputies belonging to the MHP, CHP and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) who had witnessed the severe and even bloody clashes between leftist and rightist students at universities before the Sept. 12, 1980 coup period and how those clashes were provoked by people outside the universities. "None of those deputies would like to see similar incidents today. We all know that if we show tolerance to these kinds of incidents today, we will end up experiencing a similar period all over again," he warned.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-12-21 20:00:02
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