University students Ferhat Tüzer and Berna Yılmaz, members of the Youth Federation, are being prosecuted for posting a banner claiming free education during the Romani Meeting on 14 March 2010. The meeting in Istanbul had also been attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The banner read, "We want free education and we will get it".
At the second hearing of the trial on Tuesday (14 December), the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court decided to keep both students in detention.
Tüzer and Yılmaz are each facing up to 15 years behind bars on charges of "membership of an illegal organization".
Both students have been in detention for nine months now. The Tuesday hearing was attended by their families and lawyers. The students said in their defence that they were not members of an illegal organization and that they voiced their demand for free education as their constitutional right. They requested their acquittal. The court decided to keep both students in detention and adjourned the case to 24 May 2011.
AKP carries on with hostility against youth
Members of the Youth Federation gathered in front of the Sütlüce district building of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday (15 December) to protest against the court decision. Federation members Hakan Karabey and Gökçe Uluda were taken into custody.
Other members organized a protest action in front of the Beşiktaş (Istanbul) Courthouse in order to support their fellow students. They sang revolutionary marches during the hearing. Afterwards, they voiced their strident protest against the court decision.
The Youth Federation made the following announcement: "Yes, people are being arrested. [...] This happens when justice is in the hands of the AKP. Our request sent to Ankara was signed by 16,000 people but it was ignored. 16,000 people were told 'You are guilty as well'. So we quickly gathered the signatures of 140 intellectuals but they were also ignored".
"This decision is a threat conveyed to the youth by the AKP via Ferhat and Berna. We will put up the same banners and chant the same slogans wherever the Prime Minister, the state ministers and the members of parliament meet until Ferhat and Berna will be released". (BT/VK)
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