Turkey: Boğaziçi University students face down Erdoğan regime

February 26, 2021
Students protest at the Bogazici University in Instanbul. The placard reads: "We want an elected rector, not an appointed one." Photo: ANF English.

Turkey's interior minister Süleyman Soylu has again threatened students protesting against the appointment of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crony Melih Bulu as rector of Istanbul's Boğaziçi (Bosphorus) University.

Soylu targeted the students and their families in a televised speech.

In response, the university students made it clear they are determined to continue their struggle.

The students and teaching staff have been protesting for weeks against the appointment of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) politician as an attack by the regime on university autonomy.

Soylu labelled calls for Bulu's resignation as "Boğaziçi provocations" and referred to the students' families as "ideological families". The students responded on February 21 with a protest letter.

‘No compromises’

The letter, published by Firat News Agency (ANF English) said: "Soylu threatens our families who support us in our struggle for our legitimate demands and labels them as 'ideological families'. But your threats and your arrest of those involved have not intimidated the Boğaziçi resistance.

“Now, before you try 'warnings' to our families, first see the demands of the Boğaziçi resistance, the workers' resistance, the women protesting under the slogan 'We want to live' and the LGBTI people.

“Your time is running out. You incite hostility, sexism and homophobia and try to label every struggle for rights as 'terrorism'. So you continue your politics of hatred and threats that people are so sick of.

“You know it, but we want to repeat it again. We have not backed down and we will not be dissuaded from the struggle. We will not bow down. We will continue to fight until our just demands are met. We will not compromise. You will take a step back."

Meanwhile, repression against the students continues. Two more students were arrested on February 21, for their participation in the protests at the university following raids. The student collectives protested the arrests, saying, "Repression and arrests will not intimidate us."

Writers and journalists speak out

More than 340 writers, poets and journalists have signed a statement initiated by the Writers Union of Turkey in support of the students.

The statement defends the right of universities to elect their own rectors, and supports the resistance of students and academics.

“From the mafia father to the dean of the theology faculty, from the minister of the interior to the police officers, everyone who thought they had power threatened the students and the opposition unabashedly.

“Students, who have been arrested and placed under house arrest, should be released immediately.

“Boğaziçi University should be allowed to elect its own rector, political participation, freedom of thought and expression, and pressure on science and art should come to an end."

Support from Catalonia

The Association of Progressive Students (AEP) in Catalonia released a statement denouncing the violent response of the Turkish stats, which has arrested more than 160 students, and subjected many more to house arrest.

The AEP statement said: “Police officers stormed the university campus, when dozens of students protested against the rector imposed ... by President Erdogan” and condemned “the consequent repression against the LGBTI community, accused of encouraging demonstrations.

“Erdogan has called students ‘terrorists’ and LGBTI students in particular have been targeted for harassment.”

The AEP stressed that “the situation has spread beyond the university campus: police have reportedly attacked several solidarity protests in cities across the country in recent days, including Izmir and the Turkish capital Ankara.

“These protests witnessed assaults, such as that of a young woman who was knocked unconscious and the assaults reported by protesters, who have been searched and sexually assaulted by police officers.

“We join the wave of support for students, the LGBTI community, freedom of expression and demonstration, as well as academic freedom.”

[Compiled from ANF English.]

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.