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Student detained for two and half months in Turkey, no formal indictment issued

(BIANET/IFEX) - 23 August 2012 - "I was snatched away from my home in the company of [security officials] bearing rifles. I have been under arrest for two and a half months without knowing why . . ."

Thus begins a letter to BIANET penned by Ezgi Özgün, a junior student in Dumlupinar University's Department of Public Administration.

Officials took Özgün into custody on 9 May 2012 during a raid on her home in connection with a security operation against the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C.) No one has ever told her why she was arrested. She has remained behind bars at the Sincan Women's Prison since then.

With an order of secrecy on her file and no formal indictment prepared against her, Özgün and her lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karatana, have been left in the dark as to the exact nature of the charges leveled against her. "Making propaganda for a terrorist organization" is their guess.

Officials asked Özgün a number of questions at the Ankara Prosecutor's Office during her interrogation, including the following:

- "You have issued a press statement demanding free education. Who exactly is making this demand?"
- "Are you attending the panels at the Education and Science Workers' Union (Egitim-Sen)?"
- "Did you attend the 1 May demonstrations in Taksim Square (in Istanbul) in 2011?"
- "Did you participate in the demonstrations in the town of Kürecik in [the eastern province of] Malatya against the [U.S.] missile shield [radar there]?"

"These are the reasons for my arrest, even though it is absurd to characterise demands for free education as an offense and question [me] about it," Özgün said.

"Since when does it constitute a crime to exercise a constitutional right? I am a student of public administration. It was the schools and academics of this state that taught me about constitutional rights, the equality of laws and that formal charges require evidence [to back them up] throughout my three years of education," she added.

On 10 May, law enforcement officials also arrested 21-year-old French citizen Sevil Sevimli, alleging that she was a member of the DHKP-C after she arrived in the northwestern province of Eskisehir as part of the Erasmus student exchange program. She was subsequently released, however, within the scope of the Third Judicial Package ratified on 5 July.

"I am only one of thousands of arrested students," Özgün said, adding that public pressure played a significant role in Sevimli's release.

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