Pirate Party Australia stands with Pirate Party Turkey (PPTR) and their committee member Ural Önel, who has been arrested and assaulted by police for his involvement in national protests over the last month.
PPTR has been calling on people to join the rallies, expressing solidarity and unification in the rights of all people in Turkey, and urging them to stand up and not remain silent in the face of outright injustice and inequality.
“Many students are being taken into custody for their participation in protests nationwide;” said a PPTR spokesperson. “Ural Önel, from PPTR’s Refoundation Comittee, was taken during a protest in Ankara. He, like many other protesters, was beaten and detained without any proper legal reason. Many of the detained students saw bad treatment from officials. Fortunately Ural has since been released, and is recovering. Our Party demands the release of all those in unlawful detention under the Government! We will not stand down!”
Ural is among hundreds of largely LGBTI students, but also teachers and other Turkish people who have been arrested at many similar rallies held in the capital Ankara, Istanbul and other cities following the un-democratic appointment of Boğaziçi University’s new head by President Erdoğan, which circumvented the University’s own election process. This has not happened at the University since the military coup of 1980, and has been labelled a clear attack on educational freedom and integrity, prompting some of the countries’ largest demonstrations for over 7 years.
The protesters, who are rallying in support of LGBTI equality, democratic processes, freedom of expression and secular education, have been labelled as “terrorists” and “perverts”  by the ruling AK Party under President Erdogan. This labelling alone has led to international outcry, as well as Twitter placing its first ever warning on a Turkish Government tweet, which featured anti-LGBTI sentiment and aimed to characterise the protesters as unlawful.
A Turkish political figure has said that freedom of peaceful assembly is lawful under their nations’ constitution , which is also under fresh attempts by Erdoğan to be re-written.
Erdogan has said of the protests “We will not allow it. We will do whatever is needed to prevent this”, and the newly-appointed University Head at the centre of the controversy has added “I am never thinking about resigning”, and that he thinks the crisis will be finished within six months.
Tear gas, rubber bullets and batons are being deployed against the unarmed protesters, with widescale reports of beatings, sexual assault, and even torture among those held in custody. At least four students are reported to have been arrested at home, following their sharing and comments of the events on social media.
Professor Zeynep Gambetti of Boğaziçi University said to the media “I seriously don’t think the main ideological struggle is about religion – it’s about power.”
Pirate Party Australia stands with its Turkish counterparts in demanding the release of all those held without proper authority in Turkey, who have been detained simply for voicing their innate human rights. We wish Ural all the best in his recovery, and hope for safety and health for all those continuing the necessary fight for their rights in Turkey.