Erdoğan's rector 'doesn't consider resignation' as protests continue

Melih Bulu, the Erdoğan-appointed rector of Boğaziçi University, said on Feb. 3 that he absolutely doesn't consider resigning despite nationwide protests urging for his dismissal. Bulu's statement came hours after police officers brutalized protesters in Istanbul and Ankara, and detained dozens.

Duvar English / Reuters

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's appointed rector to Boğaziçi University, the under-qualified and widely-opposed Melih Bulu, said on Feb. 3 that he had no intention of resigning, despite nationwide protests against him that became the scene of brutal police intervention the day before. 

"Some groups within Boğaziçi University have taken this protest culture too far," Bulu said on Feb. 3, after assuring reporters that he was not the type of rector to limit student demonstrations. 

More than 250 people were detained during protests in Istanbul this week, and although most have been released, 29 are still in detention and 11 remain under house arrest, authorities said.

In Ankara, 69 protesters were detained on Feb. 2, state-owned Anadolu Agency reported, while Turkish media quoted Bulu as telling reporters in Istanbul: "I am absolutely not thinking about resigning."

Bulu, who once applied to run for parliament under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told broadcaster HaberTürk on Feb. 3 that the "crisis will be totally finished within six months."

Bulu's statements come less than 24 hours after dozens of protesters were brutalized by police in Istanbul and Ankara for protesting his appointment via presidential decree, a move widely interpreted as an interruption of the democratic process of rectorial elections.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called for Bulu's resignation after the brutal crackdown on protesters in a video that he shared on social media, captioned "Immediately release Turkey's children!"

Kılıçdaroğlu was criticized for addressing the parents of Boğaziçi students, urging them to de-escalate rising tensions in the country, but not speaking to the students directly. 

"We are faced with a government that's out of control. It feeds on tension. We have to be sound-minded. We must be conscientious. We must not play the government's game," Kılıçdaroğlu said in the video. 

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu met with the students on Feb. 3 to hear their grievances and said that he was determined to do his part to ensure Istanbul was a place where everyone could practice their democratic rights. 

“The oppression and violence directed at this youth who have no goals but to protect scientific integrity and academic credibility are unacceptable," İmamoğlu said.

Meanwhile, Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş urged Bulu to resign in an open letter, noting that he had a historic opportunity to improve domestic affairs with the simple act of stepping down. 

"Remember that by resigning, you will not only be establishing peace in the university, but you will also take the wind out of the sails of anyone malevolent," Yavaş said. 

Boğaziçi academics also echoed their message to Bulu that he should resign, staging their daily peaceful protest in front of the rectorial office by standing and clapping with their backs to the building. 

Students of Ankara's prestigious Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTÜ) also protested Bulu on Feb. 3.

Meanwhile, the government has dismissed criticism of the appointment, saying it is legal. Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said on Feb. 3 he believed the protests were "organized by professionals."