Students of the Black Sea Technical University (KTÜ) in Trabzon encountered massive police violence when they demonstrated against the construction of hydro-electric power plants (HES) during a symposium visited by the Minister of the Environmental, Veysel Eroğlu. The police and Special Security Units (GÖP) of the university intervened against the students when they tried to communicate their requests.
Thereupon, the number of attendees of the “Eastern Black Sea Region Inundation Symposium” was being limited for “security reasons”. Students were not allowed to join the activity organized on the campus.
It was reported that the students faced massive police violence; four students were heavily beaten.
Minister Eroğlu visited the campus on 10 February. A good 2,000 students protested against the planned construction of more than 700 HES power plants in the Black Sea valleys. KTÜ student Volkan Bilgin talked to bianet about the police intervention.
“We were going to voice our criticism on the Hydroelectric Power Plants to the minister. But we encountered an attack as it could be seen on the pictures published in the media. The actual intervention happened in the vans of the police though. Four of our fellow students were heavily beaten”.
“We were beaten one by one”
Initially, everybody was empowered to participate in the symposium. However, when the protesting students walked towards the conference hall, the security forces blocked their way. Organizations from the Black Sea region condemned the attack after photographs of the massive police intervention were published in the media.
Student Bilgin said that the students who were taken into the police vans after the intervention were beaten one by one:
“They took us to the vans and closed the doors behind us. The door was opened again and policemen entered the van. The actual severe attack happened here, in the van. They beat everybody one by one. Four of our fellow students were injured quite seriously”.
No medical report for beating if students recover within two days
The students were kept in police custody from 11.00 am to 6.00 pm. They had no opportunity to give their statements but waited the whole time, Bilgin recalled. He said that the hospital they went to refused to issue a report to document the beating. The students were told that they did not need a report because they “would recover within two days”.
“Students have their say”
Bilgin expressed the students’ solidarity with the people from the Black Sea Region. “We think that the university students have their say regarding the problems of the region”, Bilgin said and reported that they were going to carry on with their protest actions.
Organizations from the Black Sea region and platforms who are struggling against the hydroelectric power plants criticized the police intervention against the KTÜ students.
In a written statement, the Fellowship of the Streams Platform criticized the intervention by the police and the private security forces and condemned that students were dragged along the ground, heavily beaten, kicked at their heads and taken into police custody. “These attacks against the young people who support us in our struggle for our life space should be stopped instantly. The people responsible for this have to be taken to account”, it was stated.
The Black Sea Insurrection Platform announced in writing, “We know that the preference of the political power does not prioritize the people, life or science but groups with economic interest”.
“The patience of all defenders for life was challenged when the minister carelessly talked about how our valleys have been sold unconcerned. The struggle pursued by the students as members of the Students Collective showed how difficult it is to protect the geographical region we live in”.
Acar: “This was an attack against the entire people in the region”
Hüseyin Acar from the Fındıklı Streams Protection Platform condemned the attack as well. The platform particularly campaigns against the hydroelectric power plants in Viçe, a district of Rize on the eastern Black Sea coast. “The people are being ignored and the ones who voice their opinions are being silenced. We look at this attack as an attack against our entire people. But we will never be intimidated”, Acar claimed.
The Platform Against Commercialization of Water (STHP) condemned the intervention at the university in the course of a protest action on Galatasaray Square in Istanbul. The platform protested against the “Renewable Energy Law” which passed through parliament and was approved by the Prime Ministry. (EÇ/EÖ/VK)