Turkish police have detained a dozen students amid a fresh wave of LGBT+ protests at a top Istanbul university.
Clashes between students and police at Bogazici University began in January when president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed an anti-LGBT+ loyalist as a senior official.
The demonstrations spread across Istanbul and other cities in February, leading to the detention of 600 people whom Turkey’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu labelled “LGBT+ deviants“.
Tensions at the university escalated further on Thursday (25 March) as a group tried to protest an investigation into a student who created an artwork that depicted rainbows alongside the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam.
Reuters reports that seven students stood trial last week on charges of inciting hatred by displaying a picture that combined Islamic images with LGBT+ rainbow flags.
Videos released by the “Bogazici Resistance” student group on Twitter and Instagram showed scores of police in riot gear moving in on students trying to enter the campus.
“The police are now intervening because we wanted our friends to be released and we wouldn’t leave the front of the campus until we got them,” the group wrote.
Shouts and screams can be heard in one video as tightly-packed police surge into the crowd using riot shields. Another shows people being violently forced into detention vehicles.
Vigils continued on campus on Friday (26 March) as students and faculty with loudspeakers addressed crowds carrying LGBT+ flags and banners, reflecting the ever-widening gulf between the university and the deeply anti-LGBT+ Turkish government.
“Human dignity will overcome torture,” Bogazici Resistance declared on social media alongside hashtags translating to #ReleaseOurFriends #Don’tTouchMyRainbow.
“Together we cry out again and again from for our friends who have been detained by torture, assaulted and faced with naked abuse!”