Turkey’s top court says student’s rights violated over anti-rector demonstration

Turkey's top court has ruled that a university student's reference to the institution’s rector as a state-appointed “trustee” official cannot form the basis of a disciplinary penalty and was a violation of the student’s rights, Artı Gerçek news site reported on Friday.

Turkey’s southern Mersin University violated the right to education of İlknur Uyan, who was suspended from school for one month for participating in a press conference to criticize the government-appointed rector in 2017, Artı Gerçek said.

Uyan was one of dozens of students who participated in a protest against a decision by the university to launch an investigation into students protesting a 2015 Islamic State (ISIS) suicide attack in capital Ankara.

The Mersin University students in a press statement spoke out against the rector, saying the “trustee rector” was not concerned with students, but rather “taking on the task of political rulership.”

Uyan received a disciplinary penalty and a one-month suspension from the university in February of 2018 over her participation in the event and subsequently took the matter to a local court, which rejected her application. After her case also rejected by an appeals court, Uyan applied with the Constitutional Court in April of this year.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that Uyan’s right to education had been violated and ordered the state to pay her 13,500 liras ($751) in compensation, citing the student’s right to freedom of speech, according to Artı Gerçek.

In the wake of the July 2016 coup attempt, the Turkish used a state of emergency to change the process that selects the rector, giving the power to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The appointment of Erdoğan’s governing party loyalist as rectors has led to protests, particularly at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University last year.

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