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Three protesters arrested for holding an "illegal" banner

(BIANET/IFEX) - Two people were detained after they held up a banner demanding free education at a meeting of local Roma in Istanbul on 14 March 2010.

The gathering of more than 10,000 was addressed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Ferhat Tüzer, Berna Yılmaz and Utku Aykar were arrested after they displayed a banner saying "We want free education, and we will get it" during the meeting. They were taken to court on 17 March. Tüzer and Yılmaz were detained at the prosecutor's request on charges of "membership in an illegal organisation". Their group, "Youth Associations Federation", was also featured on the banner. Aykar was released.

The People's Law Office demanded the release of the young people immediately. The office explained that both the police and the prosecutor considered the "Youth Associations Federation" an "illegal organisation" and the slogan about free education was seen as a "slogan of an illegal organisation". The office added that the court ruled in favour of the prosecution.

The People's Law Office said that the decision to detain the young people amounted to an "unofficial declaration of martial law".

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