Approximately 100 students, staff and faculty gathered outside the Knight Library on Tuesday in a solidarity demonstration for Turkish protesters. Turkish protesters endured excessive police brutality after a sit-in on Friday for the preservation of a public park escalated into violence and mass protests. Hundreds of protesters and police have been injured, making this the most violent riot Turkey has seen in decades, according to Reuters.
For UO graduate student and native Turkish citizen Baran Germen, the issue is close to home. Though Germen moved to the United States and began attending the UO two years ago, his family and friends are living in Turkey and were involved in the protests.
“I was really psychologically distraught that my people were suffering and I couldn’t join them in their resistance,” Germen said. “I thought this isn’t just a local issue, this is a global international issues that works on universal values and the universal violation of human rights.”
Germen organized the demonstration through social media with the help of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation.
According to Germen, though the events in Turkey are happening on the other side of the world, they are relevant to students at the UO because of the many international students at the university and the violation of universal human rights.
“These are universal values and we need to gather together to support them,” Germen said. “By doing this, we are reaching out to a lot of people.”
Political Science GTF Mehmet Celebi spent most of his life in Istanbul, Turkey and attended a high school close to Gezi Park where the protest began.
Back in Celebi’s home town of Istanbul, a lot of his friends from high school and college are right in the middle of the protests. Celebi is experiencing the protests against the Turkish government through photos and information that his friends have posted on their Facebook pages, which pushed him to do something to help support them.
“I feel angry. I feel that the government in Turkey is just not respecting the basic human rights of everyone in Turkey,” Celebi said.
Celebi believes in his friends, and said he would certainly be on the streets with them if he was there.
“The government cannot challenge protestors and cannot use brutality against it’s own people,” Celebi said.