Protests have erupted in Turkey following the death of a medical student who took to social media to openly denounce the pressure and fear he was facing in his religious community residence before committing suicide.
Enes Kara, a second-year medical student, had spoken about the pressure of being an active member of a religious community in Elazığ, eastern Turkey. In the clip, he claimed he “lost.” [his] full zest for life and enthusiasm’.
Medical student Enes Kara (above), 20, had spoken out about the pressures of being an active member of a religious community in Elazığ, in eastern Turkey, before taking his own life on Monday. In the clip, he claimed he “lost.” [his] whole zest for life and enthusiasm’
Kara’s death sparked public outrage at religious communities’ dormitories in Turkey – a practice the teenager controversially claimed had “forced” him to perform daily prayers, cook and clean and attend religious classes before his death to visit community.
His friends at Fırat University Faculty of Medicine have joined forces on campus to protest his death, meeting in front of the faculty building and holding carnations in memory of their colleague.
Now experts have spoken out against the conditions under which such students have to live.
The Psychiatric Association of Turkey said in a statement: “It is a public obligation to ensure that young people benefit from quality education, shelter, food and mental health support services.”
Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Services is also said to have made the decision to block online access to Kara’s last video, which was posted before he took his own life.
Mr Kara ended his life after posting an online clip sharing his concerns about the future and his experiences in the religious community dormitory where his family urged him to “develop his spirituality”.
Tens of thousands of heartfelt messages of support for Kara were shared online following the student’s death, along with the hashtag Enes Kara.
In the video message, recorded about a month ago, Kara, a self-proclaimed atheist, complained that he didn’t have time to prepare for medical school or study because he was “forced” to pray at the community residence.
The funeral of Kara, who left a handwritten note before his death, took place on Tuesday in Turkey’s Belen district of Hatay. It is understood that he was not a practicing Muslim at the time of his death, bianet.org reports.
On Friday night, thousands of protesters had gathered in Istanbul following the student’s suicide, with a handful clashed with police.
Images showed angry groups of young people protesting the often repressive conditions imposed on residents of religious sects in Turkey.
Turkish students took to the streets in Istanbul to demand change after the death of student Enes Kara. The protesters (pictured above) carried placards and chanted slogans on Friday night
Thousands of angry protesters slammed into a large vehicle in central Istanbul on Friday night following demonstrations over the publicized suicide of a 20-year-old student
Kara’s death sparked public outrage at religious communities’ dormitories in Turkey – a practice the teenager controversially claimed had “forced” him to perform daily prayers, cook and clean and attend religious classes before his death to visit community. Pictured: Turkish police clashes with protesters in Istanbul on Friday
Students were seen holding signs and singing through the streets of Turkey’s historic capital. Pictures also showed at least one injured young protester sprawled across the street after clashes with police.
Popular Turkish singer Tarkan shared his sadness at Enes Kara being “driven to suicide,” with a statement shared online.
He was also critical of parents who sent their children to the dormitories of the religious communities for indoctrination: “Dear mothers and fathers. Before it’s too late, listen to your children’s feelings and thoughts with empathy and love, and stand by their side unconditionally.
“Respect their free will, their desires and their choices. Your priority must be your happiness. The life they live is their life. Your children are not your property, nor do they belong to you.
“They are free souls who came into the world through us, their mothers and fathers. Instead of putting out their light, let your children enlighten our hearts with that light.
“Don’t forget that our primary responsibility is to protect and protect our children. Not to let them serve the exploitation of bigoted and fanatical mentalities…”
The ruling AKP party has denounced the demonstrations. Deputy chairman and spokesman Ömer Çelik expressed “deep sadness” at Kara’s death, before adding that “every death should bring a person face to face with their own soul”.
“Those who provoke struggle, ideological revenge and division through the death of a young person are unacceptable and unmoral,” he added.
The opposition Labor Party has since urged leaders to conduct a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding Kara’s death and has demanded that religious communities’ dormitories be closed to students.
An injured student lies sprawled on the ground after a clash with police during protests in Istanbul on Friday night
A group of Turkish students wearing masks face police during protests over the death of a medical student in Istanbul
The police grab a young woman who, along with thousands of others, is protesting the suicide of medical student Enes Kara