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Turkey’s jailed university students

Hundreds of Turkish university students have landed behind bars on such dubious grounds as making press statements, demanding free transport and health care, celebrating Women’s Day and even reading Marx.
Gendarme officers watch demonstrators from inside the perimeter of the heavily guarded Silivri prison where the trial of a shadowy-right wing group took place, 70km (43 miles) west of Istanbul, October 20, 2008. Ergenekon, a shadowy right-wing group, went on trial in Turkey on Monday on charges of trying to topple Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government. Eighty-six people, including retired army officers, politicians, lawyers and journalists, are accused of planning assassinations and bombings to sow cha

The entire world knows it now: being a woman, a worker or a journalist is not an easy business in Turkey. And what about being young? Bowing down to authoritarian fiats is even harder for Turkey's youth. Leading a free and joyous life, pursuing dreams and speaking their minds are not things that young people can enjoy in Turkey today. Rather, they are constantly on alert about what they write and read, and even what they wear. Those who dare to speak their minds are not forgiven, especially if they refuse to be the “pious and vengeful” youth President Recep Tayyip Erdogan imagines.

According to Veli Agbaba, deputy chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), more than 3,000 university students are currently in prison, accused of various crimes but mostly of membership in a terrorist organization. Some have landed in jail for carrying pictures of revolutionary leaders or brandishing banners for free education, others for selling tickets for concerts of leftist bands.

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