Boğaziçi community calls for int'l solidarity in struggle for academic freedom

The Boğaziçi University International Comunity has called for international solidarity in its endeavor for democratic governance and academic freedom in Turkey. The statement came on the first year anniversary of the protests that erupted last year after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's appointment of a new rector to the prestigious university.

Students demonstrate in front of the university entrance on Jan 4, 2021 in this file photo.

Duvar English 

The Boğaziçi University International Comunity (BOYUT), which was established to ensure the withdrawal of political appointments within Boğaziçi University on Jan. 2 2021, issued a statement in its struggle for academic freedoms, university autonomy, and the basic rights of students. 

The statement came on the first year anniversary of the protests that erupted last year after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's appointment of Melih Bulu as rector to the university on Jan. 2, 2021. 

Following months-long protest, Bulu was eventually dismissed from his duty by Erdoğan in July. A month later in August, again via a presidential decree, it was Prof. Naci İnci who assumed duty as the rector of the prestigious institution despite the high disapproval rates he received on polls held among the community.

Academics and students are continuing with their protest against İnci's appointment.

The statement in the BOYUT's notice is as follows:

“Call For Solidarity With Bogazici Resistance

Bogazici University, an esteemed public university in Turkey, has been in peaceful resistance for a year against the attempts of the Erdogan administration to turn it into an ideological satellite of its authoritarian regime.

As a pillar of autonomy and democratic governance, Bogazici University has been an exemplary institution since its inception 159 years ago.

Starting with an appointment of an incompetent rector in January 2021 who was politically involved with Erdogan’s party, the assaults on Bogazici University accelerated through the insidious power grab within the internal governance and the openly aggressive police force to supress the defiance amid peaceful resistance of students, faculty, workers and alumni in a united act of solidarity.

Throughout the year, Bogazici academics staged a symbolic protest by turning their backs to the rectoral office on the campus grounds with their ceremonial robes every workday at the same hour. Students on the other hand, staged continuous demonstrations inside and outside the campus which were met with brutal police force together with the security personnel of the university. Assaults, detentions and arrests violated the freedom of expression and right to protest. Academics at the forefront of protests have been sacked and banned from entering the campus for free and were unable to continue their open seminars. Two students are still held under detention with no legitimate ground. Some student clubs including LGBT+ and the commission to prevent harassment have been shut down. When the first appointee rector could not succeed in delivering the plan of Erdogan’s model of a university, he was replaced by another appointment from within the university against the will of 95% of the faculty in August last year. The repressive measures continued with police seizure and violence inside the campus. The new appointee rector acted as an informant to the police with ungrounded accusations against student leaders who ended up being detained without indictment.

The reason why Bogazici University has been a target for the Erdogan administration lies in the exemplary traditions of the university for democratic governance and academic freedom which created one of the highest-ranking research institutions of the country. For years, supreme power within the university was vested in the faculty and represented by the senate that took decisions by mutual understanding and compromise. This democratic tradition is now being decimated by the second appointee rector by the government against the will of all components of Bogazici University. 

Call for action!

Bogazici University has been unyielding in its resistance and calls for international solidarity in its endeavour for democratic governance and academic freedom in a country under threat of an authoritarian regime. This expression of solidarity can be a statement of support for us to publish, a letter to other institutions, a post in social media with the hashtag: #SolidarityWithBogaziciResistance.”