Over 200 academics from one of Turkey’s top universities, Boğaziçi University, have signed a petition demanding the reinstatement of Can Candan to the university’s Department of Western Languages and Literature, daily Evrensel reported on Oct. 18. Candan was dismissed by trustee rector Naci İnci on July 16, 2021.
Documentary filmmaker and academic Candan was a central voice during campus protests at Boğaziçi University this year. Unrest erupted at the university in January when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led government dismissed Boğaziçi’s former rector and appointed Melih Bulu, an AKP-affiliated politician and academician.
Melih Bulu was dismissed on July 15, and Naci İnci, then deputy to Bulu, was put in charge. Protests have been ongoing on the campus since January, demanding academic independence and a democratic rector selection process.
İnci dismissed Candan on his first day in charge after Bulu’s dismissal.
Stating that he would not deprive his students of education, Candan, who taught at Boğaziçi for fourteen years, tried to enter the campus to teach a course on Oct. 11, 2021. He was barred from entering campus on the first day of fall semester classes by private security guards, acting under the orders of rector İnci.
Other Boğaziçi academics, clad in their robes, came to support Candan at the gate. They insisted he be admitted, and stayed by his side for two days. At a press conference there, they insisted that all of their colleagues should be reinstated and allowed to teach at the university.
In the past week, these academics have repeatedly asked rector İncir for reasons as to why Candan was dismissed and not allowed on campus. İnci has refused to respond. Now, the academics have circulated a petition to the public calling for Candan’s reinstatement. They said that the university is not just a place, but a network that allows for knowledge production and teaching. They argue that İnci’s actions deprive academics and their students of an autonomous, free public research university.
“Preventing Can Candan, who was dismissed contrary to faculty and department decisions, and our other colleagues whose classes were terminated, from meeting with their students is a violation of the basic principles of a free and autonomous university. It is also a usurpation of our students' right to education,” the petition read.
Over 200 academics signed the petition, demanding that Candan be reinstated and allowed to enter the campus freely, and also that the university be allowed to be “free and autonomous.”
Candan has filed a lawsuit against the Boğaziçi University Rectorate asking for his dismissal to be reversed. The lawsuit was rejected by the court, but Candan’s lawyers have appealed the decision to the regional administrative court.
Other academics at Boğaziçi University have been similarly targeted for their roles in the protests. Classes planned by Özcan Vardar, Feyzi Erçin, and Seda Binbaşgil, who all were vocal against Melih Bulu and later Naci İnci, have been canceled by the rectorate.