Protest clampdown

September 3, 2004

Turkey has warned universities that student demonstrations on their premises will be regarded as "terrorist or anarchist activities" and that anyone taking part will put their scholarship at risk.

A Ministry of Education directive says state scholarships will be terminated for anyone "partially or completely involved" in activities including protests, occupations and writing slogans "that could infringe the freedom of education".

The legislation met with widespread criticism from politicians and academics, and legal challenges are expected.

Yok, Turkey's higher education authority, strongly criticised the move. "It is in conflict with our goal of encouraging youth to express free will," said Alparsan Isikli, a Yok member.

Kasim Koc, head of Turkey's Society of Academics, said: "This is against the concept of freedom of thought and the constitution. It denies students' right to show their reactions. They want young people who obey and don't think."

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