A total of 159 Boğaziçi University students were detained on Feb. 1 for staging a protest against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's appointment of a rector to the university.
The Istanbul Governor's Office said that 108 of the students were detained in front of the South Campus entrance, while 51 others were detained on the university premises.
Videos showed students chanting slogans such as "Police, get out" and "Universities are ours" on the campus late on Feb. 1.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the detentions late on Feb. 1 on Twitter, calling on the newly appointed Melih Bulu to resign to end "this ugly situation."
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, also from the CHP, said he had spoken with authorities to establish a dialogue between them and students, adding he would meet with the latter on Feb. 2 to hear their concerns.
Birileri istedi diye gençler tutuklama kolaycılığına heba edilemez. Eşit, özgür, onları yere baktırmayan, fırsat eşitliği olan bir ülke sağlamalıyız. Boğaziçi’ndeki durumu yetkili makamlarla görüştüm. Dialoğun sağlanmasını talep ettim, girişimlerim sürecek. #AsağıBakmayacağız— Ekrem İmamoğlu (@ekrem_imamoglu) February 1, 2021
Students have been since Jan. 4 protesting Erdoğan's appointment of Bulu, a long time ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) member, as a rector to the university.
As part of the protests, students held an art exhibition using a picture of Kaaba - a holy site for Muslims - with LGBT flags. The incident led to the placement of two students under house arrest and the arrest of two others.
Boğaziçi Solidarity on Feb. 1 planned a demonstration at 5 p.m. local time in front of the South Campus entrance. However, students faced harsh police intervention and were prevented from reading out their press statement. Images showed several of them having been detained for just chanting slogans.
Police also deployed snipers at the nearby rooftops to oversee the protest.
A video showing the snipers was shared by a university collective known as “Boğaziçi Direnişi” (Boğaziçi Resistance) on social media. “Snipers are waiting at the rooftops of buildings across the South [Campus] Entrance!” read the tweet.
Journalist Sultan Eylem Keleş shared on her Twitter account some photos displaying the extent of security for the protest. She said that journalists were prevented from recording any images of the incident.
Boğaziçi Üniversitesi'nde saat 17'de atama ve tutuklamalara karşı yapılacak eylem öncesi üniversitenin vaziyeti bu. Basının görüntü alması engelleniyor. Öğrenciler üniversite içerisinden dışarı çıkarılmıyor. Öğrencilerden zaman zaman yuhalamalar ve kapıyı aç sloganları geliyor. pic.twitter.com/MUCdqRPayh— Sultan Eylem Keleş (@esultankeles) February 1, 2021
After their intervention in front of the South Campus entrance, the police this time entered the campus premises and attacked the students staging a peaceful sit-in protest in front of the rector's building.
Earlier images had shown private security personnel holding wood sticks and beating students.