Braving crackdown, Turkish students resist Erdogan’s bid to subjugate universities

Students and teachers of Boğaziçi University and across Turkey have been protesting the undemocratic appointment of Erdogan loyalist Melih Bulu as the institution’s rector

January 09, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Students in Samsun city of Turkey in solidarity with the Boğaziçi University students’ protest. (Image via Communist Youth of Turkey(TKG), Twitter)

Turkish authorities are cracking down on protests by the student community against president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to control universities placing his loyalists at their helm. The move to appoint Melih Bulu as the rector of Boğaziçi University has been met with widespread protests which have been going on since January 4. On January 8, police detained 30 students in Ankara who had demonstrated in solidarity with the university protests. On January 7, two cadre of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) were arrested in Antalya for raising a banner in solidarity with the students. Earlier, dozens of students were detained on the same issue. Meanwhile, Erdogan has alleged that terrorists are involved in the students’ protests.

Bulu was sworn in on Tuesday. The protesters say that Melih Bulu’s appointment was not made in a democratic way and that it was part of a deliberate ploy by the Erdogan regime to subjugate autonomous universities and curbi academic freedom in the country. They pointed out that Bulu was the first person from outside the university community to be appointed to such a post in decades.

The alumni of the Boğaziçi University, students from Middle East Technical University (METU), Istanbul University, Istanbul Technical University, Yıldız Technical University and Marmara University, as well as several groups, including the Communist Youth of Turkey (TKG) and Communist Movement of Turkey (TKH), have expressed solidarity with the  Boğaziçi University protests.

The Communist Youth of Turkey (TKG) stated that “What happened in recent days reminds us that no matter how much political power in Turkey applies pressure, they cannot cross the line. Students of the Boğaziçi University reminded AKP of that line again. AKP, which occupied the parliament, unions, and even the opposition parties with this approach, again hit a wall at the university. They claimed it was not  a political decision to appoint a party militant to the head of the university. After no one believed this nonsense, the activists were labeled as terrorists. But this label can no longer go beyond satisfying a few fascists”.

TKG demanded the immediate release of all the detained protesters and asserted that neither the universities nor the country will surrender to the regime’s stick of fear.