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Police use force to suppress university protests in Turkey

(Edited and condensed)

(BIANET/IFEX) - As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Middle Eastern Technical University (METU) on 18 December 2012 for the launch ceremony of the Göktürk 2 satellite at a space technology research institute, hundreds of METU students gathered in the campus center to protest the ceremony.

Prior to Erdogan's arrival, approximately 3,000 police officers and eight armoured vehicles were deployed to the campus.

"The police were casting teargas canisters at students every 30 seconds. They were even harshly attacking as the students were retreating. The police might be seeking revenge for previous student protests," METU Professor Ferdan Ergut told BIANET. "Professors gathered on the steps of the University President's Office until the police left the campus at 7:30 p.m."

While several students were reported injured by the teargas, the exact number has yet to be announced.

According to CNN Türk, the teargas smoke spread to areas of the campus area where classes are held, and dozens of students were photographed vomiting and fainting.

"We recommend all students who have been subjected to police brutality tonight to visit our office for alternative medical reports to file a lawsuit," the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey announced on Facebook.

According to information gleaned in part from sendika.org and muhalefet.org, anti-terror police teams subsequently raided several apartments on the morning of 21 December, detaining students who protested the prime minister's visit to the university.

The authorities have said the detained students have been charged with assaulting police officers and violations of protest and gathering regulations. The police raid was executed according to Article 10 of Turkey's Anti-Terror Act by order of Chief Prosecutor Sadik Bayindir, who previously prosecuted faculty of medicine students on terrorism charges.

Student groups around Turkey have raised their voices against the police brutality at METU via solidarity protests in which the police, once again, intervened.

In Adana province, many student groups were subjected to police brutality with plastic bullets and teargas, leaving dozens wounded. In Mersin province, university students gathered on the steps of the university president's building to raise their voices.

In Eskisehir province, police put up barricades and threw teargas canisters at hundreds of protestors near the Anadolu University entrance. Students who managed to reach the university building were reportedly assaulted by private security staff and their demands to meet the university president were rejected.

Similar protests occurred at university campuses in Izmir, Trabzon and Kocaeli.
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