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Turkey arrests students protesting Erdogan's university head pick

Police raided the homes of at least 17 students after they protested the Turkish president's appointment to lead a top university in what supporters say was a blatant and violent attempt to crush their dissent.
Students chant slogans and hold placards on January 4, 2021 in front of the Bogazici University in Istanbul during a protest against the direct appointment of the new rector to Bogazici university by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

At least 17 students protesting the appointment of a member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party to head one of the nation’s top universities by presidential decree were arrested in dawn police sweeps Tuesday and subjected to physical violence and threats, lawyers say. Images of the raided homes showed doors ripped out and broken walls.

The students are being held at the anti-terror directorate of Istanbul’s Vatan police headquarters on charges of resisting arrest, violating laws governing the right to march and demonstrate and having links to terror groups. Rights groups describe the arrests as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's systematic campaign to intimidate dissenters, suffocate free expression and strip academia of its independence.

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