Boğaziçi University students respond to Bahçeli's 'olive branch': Stop calling us terrorists

Boğaziçi University students responded to government ally Devlet Bahçeli's new call on the protestors to find a solution by urging him to first stop using the word 'terrorist' when referring to them. Bahçeli has called the students vandals, barbarians, and snakes for protesting the president's appointment of a rector to the university.

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Students of Boğaziçi University responded to a recent olive branch from the president's ally Devlet Bahçeli after he antagonized them for weeks, urging the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader to stop calling them "terrorists" as the first step toward a resolution.

The Boğaziçi community has been protesting the president's appointment of a party member as rector to their school since Jan. 1, and dozens of detentions have been made as part of the government's crackdown on the demonstrations in favor of academic freedom.

After weeks of calling the students "terrorists," "barbarians," "vandals," and "snakes," Bahçeli completely flipped his approach on Feb. 23 and told the students to voice their concerns so they could resolve it.

"Say whatever you need to, let's resolve it, but don't get worked up by terrorist organizations at university gates," Bahçeli said on Feb. 23, continuing to use rhetoric that the protests were somehow related to terrorist organizations. 

"He tells us he wants to resolve the problem while calling our friends in the resistance 'terrorists.' He first needs to stop using this word 'terrorist' that he's so fond of," a political science student identified as B.A. told the daily Cumhuriyet on Feb. 24. 

Bahçeli's statement is long overdue and far from constructive, B.A. also said, adding that the students will not compromise on their request for President Erdoğan's appointed rector Melih Bulu to resign.

"Our requests remain the same. We want all appointed officials to quit, we want the police barricades lifted and our detained friends freed," said engineering student M.G.

The students don't want Bahçeli to own their resistance, and in fact, categorically reject his patronization, M.G. added, while another student identified as B.Y. said that Bahçeli's undertaking to resolve the protests was out of proportion with the 50-day resistance.

Boğaziçi academics have been staging peaceful protests with their backs turned to the rectorial building for weeks, and their cause has rallied up international support. 

American philosopher Judith Butler was the most recent to join the ranks of international thought leaders voicing their support for the Boğaziçi student protesters, including iconic philosopher Noam Chomsky.