Six people detained after Middle East Technical University’s (METU) 2018 graduation ceremony in Ankara.
The number of students detained for carrying a banner with cartoons of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s face on a variety of animals at their graduation ceremony increased to six on Sunday. On Saturday, three students were detained in house raids on charges of insulting the president.
The cartoon students carried was had drawn by popular satirical weekly 'Penguen' in 2005. Erdoğan had sued the magazine when he was prime minister for depicting him as several different animals. A court threw out the case in 2006.
Thousands of people have been prosecuted in Turkey for allegedly insulting Erdoğan - on social media, verbally, and through cartoons.
"We are saddened by the unpleasant incidents [during the graduation ceremony] and we do not approve them," the university's Rector's Office said in a statement on July 7.
Students carried placards with political messages during METU's graduation ceremony.
A placard read "Verşan Kök cannot be the rector of METU” were attacked by the private security guards. Security guards tried to seize the placard as students resisted.
Rector Verşan Kök watched the attack of the security guards as attendees protested and shouted "Resign rector," "Verşan Kök cannot be the rector of METU."
The placard went back into the march and rector Verşan Kök could not give his speech.
Rector elections are being followed by president Erdoğan’s decision on rector appointments. The election in METU resulted with Nevzat Özgüven’s win, yet Mustafa Verşan Kök as the runner-up was assigned as the rector. There have been protests by students against Kök, as he was not seen as the legitimate rector and acted in accordance with government interests with regards to students’ protests.
The student graduation ceremonies witness increasing protests starting from June Resistance, or Gezi Park Resistance, in 2013. Policies of government and the pressure on academia have been protested by students.