University students continue their protests: "We can't shelter"

Protests by students against rising rents and waiting times for dormitory places and the conditions continue. Meanwhile, the protesters are threatened by the president and called "liars".

Turkish regime leader Erdoğan tries to prevent any form of protest. The president insulted the students protesting against their catastrophic situation and homelessness as "liars" and made them the target of state repression. Erdoğan stated, "This has nothing to do with being a student. These are just pseudo-students. This is simply a new version of the Gezi Park incident." With this, Erdoğan revealed that the regime is afraid of a similarly broad protest movement, which today would probably even be able to put an end to the tottering Erdoğan administration. Despite the threats, students continue their protests. In an interview with ANF, members of the student union protesting in Yoğurtçu Park in Istanbul's Kadıköy district talk about their situation.

"Unused public buildings should be given to students"

Armağan studies at Boğaziçi University and lives in a student housing community in Hisarüstü. Rents in Hisarüstü are particularly high because the neighborhood is close to the university. Armağan says, "Since Hisarüstü is a place where mainly students live, the landlords think they can find tenants at any time. That's why the prices are so high. For apartments with two or three rooms, about 4,000 TL (about 400 euros) are charged. We pay 2,500 lira (250 euros) for a two-room apartment, and three of us live there. Since it is an attic apartment, half of the space goes anyway. There are vermin and even scorpions in the house. The price of the student dormitory places has also gone up. Last year it was 500 liras (50 euros) here now it is 750 liras (75 euros). The capacities there are also very limited. Only those who come from distant cities or from very poor families are accepted. We want a rent cap as soon as possible. We also demand support for students without scholarships up to a quarter of the minimum wage. The unused public buildings should be given to students as dormitories."

"There are no apartments"

Ceren is studying to be a teacher of English at Maltepe University. She is about to graduate and has participated in the protests from the beginning. She says, "For me, the housing problem became acute last month. I moved out from my family and am trying to survive as a 23-year-old in Turkey. The problem is, even if you can find money from somewhere, there are simply no apartments. Because of the lowering of the threshold to enter universities, there are now many more students. There are now even problems getting a place in a private dormitory. We must work all the time. While we are trying to study, what is now added is that we are being denied our absolute basic right to have a roof over our heads. This has shaken us all profoundly."

"We have nothing left to lose anyway"

Ceren reports that a few days earlier, police called families and told them their children were participating in actions. "As a student union, we act in many places at the same time. A few days ago, the parents of most of us were called by the police, who told them, 'Your child is in a very bad environment and participating in actions.' Our parents were worried, of course. My father called me at 10:30 p.m. and asked what kind of environment I was in. He was really scared. I told him that this is where old women come and bring us tea and soup. What could be bad about that? But the police called our parents again and told them that they had taken pictures and that our educational career was in danger. The families' biggest fear is that we will get arrested. But we say they can do that. We have nothing to lose anyway, we are sitting on the street and we can't finance ourselves.

As a student union, we launched an appeal on September 19. In various provinces, we started this vigil at the same time. There are also calls in Istanbul in different places. We made our demands. The homes must be free and there must be support. In addition, we have started a signature campaign directed to the parliament. Until a solution is found, our actions will continue.