A video footage shows Ankara police using excessive force to disperse an annual pride march held at Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) campus on Friday.

Police detained 38 students, local media reported, citing data from the Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD).

Earlier this week the rector’s office said in an email sent to students that security measures would be taken if the students insist on holding the “unauthorized march,” adding that there are efforts to present ODTÜ as the center of these marches and that such efforts damage the prestige of the university.

According to Turkish media reports, police officers, including riot police, broke up the march, employing batons, plastic bullets and pepper spray to disperse the students and detain some of them.

Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, called on Turkish authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release the students who were detained for exercising their right to peaceful assembly by “marching peacefully for their rights to dignity and equality.”

“Scenes of peaceful Pride marchers on the METU campus being confronted with police using unnecessary and excessive force, including pepper balls, are deeply disturbing, particularly as this is a repeat of the brutality we saw here three years ago,” Muižnieks said.

The pride march was organized by the university’s LGBTI organization Solidarity Club, established in 2011. The club, which has been organizing pride marches at the university since 2011, had not been able to hold the gay march for the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.