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With the onset of the  back-to-school peri­od, stu­dents in Turkey find them­selves in a rough spot con­cern­ing hous­ing. Added to the insuf­fi­cien­cy of pub­lic homes, unimag­in­able infla­tion, an out­landish rise in rentals and the clos­ing of pri­vate homes because of the pan­dem­ic, there is cur­rent­ly a huge insuf­fi­cien­cy of avail­able hous­ing for students.

These youth, our future in 2023…”

For sev­er­al days now, hun­dreds of youth have occu­pied parks in a num­ber of towns in Turkey, spend­ing their nights there in protest. This has giv­en rise to the Barı­namıy­oruz Move­ment and the hash­tag #Barı­namıy­oruz, lit­er­al­ly: “we can’t find hous­ing”

A small sam­ple of the many pho­tos shared by the movement.

  • Moda Istanbul #Barınamıyoruz
    Moda, Istan­bul. @Barınamayanlar

Erdoğan recent­ly respond­ed by announc­ing that, over 20 years, which is to say from school year 2001/2002 to 2021/2022, the num­ber of avail­able beds had risen from 180 thou­sand to 750 thou­sand. The Pres­i­dent did not men­tion the fact that the num­ber of stu­dents had also shown a strong increase.

At the open­ing of this school year 815,365 stu­dents reg­is­tered for uni­ver­si­ty stud­ies. A total num­ber of 3 mil­lion 800 thou­sand youths attend sec­ondary school­ing. Pub­lic homes rep­re­sent  a total of 793 thou­sand beds which is clear­ly insuf­fi­cient. More­over, there are cur­rent­ly 4, 500 homes, pri­vate­ly owned or belong­ing to foun­da­tions. Pri­or to the pan­dem­ic, there were 6,000 but 25% have shut down due to finan­cial difficulties.

Yet no house, nor home…

Recent­ly, pho­tos of the  “apart­men­t’s” offered to stu­dents cir­cu­lat­ed on social net­works. Rooms the size of clos­ets, con­tain­ing a bed with no win­dow, often in a piti­ful con­di­tion… at out­landish prices.

turquie appartement etudiant placard

Turkey has a “KYK bur­sary” 1 for stu­dent lodg­ing. This year, the bur­sary rep­re­sents a month­ly amount of 650 Turk­ish Lira (equiv­a­lent to 62 €). Recip­i­ents of the bur­saries are housed in homes and pay approx­i­mate­ly 450 TL in rent. In oth­er words, the State gives with one hand and takes back with the oth­er, with no con­cern over how young peo­ple must sur­vive on 200 TL, approx­i­mate­ly 20 €.

leman students étudiants

Front page on the satir­i­cal mag­a­zine Leman, Sep­tem­ber 29, 2021. “The uni­verse, my com­forter”.

Those who had “the luck” to access pub­lic homes also denounce the unhealthy con­di­tions and psy­cho­log­i­cal effects, notably in mat­ters of free­dom of thought and expression…Following in the regime’s foot­steps, for exam­ple, most of the homes must have a psy­chol­o­gist on staff, and offer the stu­dents imams affect­ed to this role.

The stu­dents are call­ing for prac­ti­cal solu­tions: con­struc­tion of new homes, but also a ceil­ing on the cost of rentals for stu­dents, a rental allowance, inspec­tion of pri­vate homes, the req­ui­si­tion of homes main­tained by reli­gious sects and the pos­si­bil­i­ty to study with­out won­der­ing every day “where will I sleep tonight, what will I eat tomorrow?” 

I can’t believe I’m protest­ing for uni­ver­si­ty hous­ing in 2021” reads one plac­ard. “While sky­scrap­ers trans­form the cities, Toki build­ings  keep appear­ing 2, is it so hard to build hous­ing for students?”

In Istan­bul, in the Kadıköy dis­trict and in Izmir, the police inter­vened again on Sep­tem­ber 27. Some fifty stu­dents in Istan­bul, and some thir­ty in Izmir were tak­en into cus­tody. “Is sleep­ing in a park a crime?” some of them asked…

Fol­low­ing the arrests, the Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or Süley­man Soy­lu did not miss the oppor­tu­ni­ty to speak out…Anadolu Ajan­sı, the regime’s offi­cial infor­ma­tion agency served as relay: Soy­lu announced that “2,243 per­sons par­tic­i­pat­ed in actions in 24 towns. Only 310 of them are stu­dents. Almost none of them have request­ed a bur­sary.” And he con­clud­ed: “It has been revealed that these belong rather to mar­gin­al left­ist groups. Six of them are mem­bers of the PKK/KCK, six of the MLKP, five of TKKÖ, two of TKP Ivil­cim, one of FETÖ/PDV, one of TKIP, one of DKP, and four mem­bers of LGBTI who love me very much.”

To sum­ma­rize: all terrorists.

The Law is what dis­tin­guish­es us from ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and van­dal struc­tures,” Soy­lu specified.

What a joke.

With­out omit­ting a small dig at exter­nal forces so jeal­ous of the for­mi­da­ble New Turkey and who live only to destroy it: “Do not take the West for a tem­ple”, he says…

Here’s anoth­er front page on Leman, sup­port­ing the stu­dents… It was pub­lished last Sep­tem­ber 22, pri­or to Min­is­ter Soy­lu’s words…  
- No apart­ments for less than 5 thou­sand lira? We have a 650 lira bur­sary. How do you expect us to pay such a rent, broth­er?
— Nev­er sat­is­fied! You look down on 650 lira ? Are you ter­ror­ists or what?..
(Click to enlarge)

When Soy­lu address­es stu­dents by mock­ing their attrac­tion for the West, he kicks the ball to the oppo­nent, because he knows full well that, con­cern­ing lodg­ing and con­di­tions for high­er stud­ies, neo-lib­er­al poli­cies have reduced stu­dents to pre­car­i­ous­ness. Nor is he unaware of the exhor­bi­tant cost of fam­i­ly loans in the Unit­ed States. He can thus surf along in brand­ing the “infi­dels” who can’t do bet­ter, and the west­ern mirage. By thus rel­a­tiviz­ing the mat­ter, he attempts to hide the fact that the stu­dents  denounced the glob­al­i­ty of the eco­nom­ic crash when out­lin­ing their liv­ing conditions.

Might this “nights under the stars” move­ment crys­tal­lize beyond stu­dent ranks?


Youth­ful forces in Turkey are erup­tive. This was already appar­ent when the regime nom­i­nat­ed uni­ver­si­ty lead­ers, in a wide­ly con­test­ed move. Youth is also a polit­i­cal issue over which the regime and the Kemal­ist oppo­si­tion wran­gle. Could this cur­rent issue turn into a long-last­ing one the “oppo­si­tion” might cultivate?

Doing so would con­sid­er­ably reduce the pre­oc­cu­pa­tions of young stu­dents, cov­er­ing “manda­to­ry mil­i­tary ser­vice”, rep­re­sent­ing an exac­er­bat­ed form of nation­al­ism,  issues of free­dom of expres­sion, includ­ing demands by LGBTIs and those of fem­i­nists, among oth­er thirsts for eman­ci­pa­tion on the part of a major­i­ty of  youth that does not sup­port the Eter­nal Turkey based on this absolute patriarchy.

The fact the Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or per­son­al­ly responds to this protest demon­strates the AKP regime’s ner­vous­ness  when faced with any top­ic of protest, while arrests, and the tak­ing into cus­tody of jour­nal­ists or oppo­nents con­tin­ues on a dai­ly basis, as do the end­less tri­als in the background.

The stu­dents under their “star­ry com­forter” are deter­mined to con­tin­ue their action. You can fol­low devel­op­ment, sup­port them, by sub­scrib­ing to the Twit­ter account of Mou­ve­ment #Barı­namıy­oruz sur @barinamayanlar.


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.