Journalists are continually hauled into court for what they write or who they speak to in pursuit of a story. Some are acquitted, but the prosecutions have harassment value. (see the Bianet website for the various cases). Protestors in the street and on university campuses are strong-armed and arrested for speech and banners critical of the AKP. Recently a busload of students going to Istanbul for a protest against AKP were not allowed to enter the city and kept on the buses for hours, not allowed to leave even to use a bathroom. When they tried to get off the bus, they were tear-gassed, causing some students (at least one had asthma) to faint. (click here and see photo above.) And now the courts give them prison sentences. (click here for full story):
The Sarıyer (Istanbul) 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance handed down a 1year and three months prison sentence each to 18 students of the Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ). The students were punished for protesting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the course of the politician’s visit on the occasion of an opening ceremony at the university.
The trial against the 18 students was opened two years ago in 2008. The court convicted the students under charges of opposing Law No. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations. The sentences were postponed due to a lack of criminal record of the defendants.
The young defendants were convicted on 5 November. The sentence will be executed if they commit the same sort of crime within the coming five years. The students had shouted slogans critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during the prime minister’s visit and posted banners reading, “The İTÜ madrasah”, “An AKP government movie”, “The great invasion”…
UPDATE: Here’s a video of the police beating the students. According to the newspapers, one young woman screamed that she was pregnant, but was beaten and kicked anyway and lost her baby. (Thanks for the reference, Bulent)