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Detained student no longer allowed visitors

(BIANET/IFEX) - 5 September 2011 - Students Ferhat Tuzer and Berna Yilmaz have been detained pending trial for 17 months because they posted a banner reading "We want free education and we will get it" during a speech by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Romani Meeting in Istanbul on 14 March 2010. Tuzer is now banned from receiving any visitors for the duration of six months because he sang a folk song.

The nation-wide "Cumhurriyet" daily reported on 2 September that the student's mother, Hayat Tuzer, was not able to see her son when she went to visit him at the Kandira No.1 F Type Prison (east of Istanbul) during recent religious holidays. She was apparently told that her son was not allowed to have any visitors because of "insubordination" stemming from his having sung a folk song.

Hayat Tuzer said that it was very painful for a mother not to be able to see her child. She recalled that Turkey had been called a democratic and liberal country and said that she did not know what to say about the injustice she experienced.

She indicated that the last time she was able to see her son was four months ago. After that, she had not been able to meet with him during her visits. "The Prime Minister is also a father in the end. He has children. I thought he would understand me but he did not understand me at all. I wrote a letter to Erdogan but did not receive any reply," Hayat Tuzer said.

"Prisons are for criminals but my son did not commit any crime. ( . . . ) He tried to express the voice of millions of students," she claimed. "My brother, you are the Prime Minister. If [my son] does not call on you, should he call on the American president instead? If you are our Prime Minister, he will of course call on you."

Ferhat Tuzer was a second year student at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Trakya University when he was taken into custody in March 2010 and arrested together with Yilmaz. They had posted a banner calling for free education together with another friend during the PM's speech at the Romani Meeting.

Both Tuzer and Yilmaz are facing imprisonment of up to 15 years each under allegations of "membership in the DHKP/C terror organization" (Party and Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of the Turkish People) and "making propaganda for a terrorist organization". The case is pending at an Istanbul court that decided to keep the 22-year-old defendants in detention even though the prosecutor demanded their acquittal.

Both students were expelled from university in the meantime and have now been detained for 17 months.

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