Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of a new rector at Bosphorus University has led to outrage and protests among students and academics.
The new rector, Melih Bulu, was appointed on 1 January. He is a member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and was also a candidate in the parliamentary elections for the AKP in 2015. Students have said that the appointment is a direct infringement on academic freedom and have been protesting it for days on the university campus. They have been also campaigning on social media with the hashtag #kayyımrektöristemiyoruz (we don’t want a trustee university president).
The protest has also been supported by academics. A joint statement was released on 3 January: “It is indispensable that universities be free from any pressure or influence from a person or an institution and not be used as a political tool. For academic freedom, decision making processes must be delegated to democratically elected academic administrators and board-approved academics from Bosphorus University”.
Police ‘handcuffed’ the door of the university
An independent students’ platform, Boğaziçi Solidarity, called for students to protest the appointment, and students gathered in front of the South Campus of the university on 4 January.
Boğaziçi öğrencileri 'Kayyum Rektör İstemiyoruz!' şiarıyla Güney Kapı'da toplanmış durumda, giderek artan polis baskısına karşın yürüyüş başlıyor.
ÜNİVERSİTELER BİZİMDİR, BİZİMLE ÖZGÜRLEŞECEK! pic.twitter.com/faZ1yi0xPd
— Boğaziçi Dayanışması (@boundayanisma) January 4, 2021
During the protests, police officers attacked students with pepper spray. Police also “handcuffed” the door of the university to stop the students from entering.
— Yol TV (@YolTV) January 4, 2021
16 students detained
After a detention warrant was issued against 28 students who protested the appointment, 16 students were detained on the morning of 5 January during house raids.
According to a statement released by the Istanbul Security Directorate, operations were carried out against 24 addresses in 13 districts in Istanbul. The students were taken into custody and some might be charged with violating “Law no. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations” and “resisting an officer on duty”.