Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has issued a presidential order that ordered the establishment of law and communications faculties at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University, which has been at the center of protests for over a month now.
The Feb. 5-dated decree also ordered the establishment of 14 faculties at 12 other universities.
Boğaziçi students and academics have been protesting since January over Erdoğan's appointment of a politically-affiliated rector to the university.
The new rector Melih Bulu welcomed Erdoğan's new presidential decree, writing on Twitter: “I believe that the Communications and Law Faculties which have been established with our President's signature will contribute different perspectives and richnesses to Boğaziçi.”
Cumhurbaşkanımızın imzasıyla kurulan İletişim ve Hukuk Fakültelerinin Boğaziçi’ne farklı perspektifler ve zenginlikler katacağına inanıyorum. Bundan sonraki sürecin işleyişini ilgili akademik kurullarımız ile ilerleteceğiz. Üniversitemiz ve ülkemiz için hayırlı olsun.— melih bulu (@melihbulu) February 6, 2021
Boğaziçi Solidarity platform, a social media account run by students, commented on Erdoğan's move, saying: “Those who have appointed Melih Bulu as a rector one night in a top-down decision are now having him establish a Law and Communications faculty. Melih Bulu is a freak of law.”
Melih Bulu’yu bir gece tepeden atama kararla rektörlüğe atayanlar şimdi de ona Hukuk ve İletişim fakültesi kurduruyor. Melih Bulu bir hukuk garabetidir!#FakülteyiSarayaKur#MelihBuluİstifa pic.twitter.com/y25Jq0QIST— Boğaziçi Direniyor (@direnbogazic) February 5, 2021
In a separate presidential decree on Feb. 5, Erdoğan also appointed rectors to 11 universities across Turkey.
Yaman Akdeniz, a prominent Turkish academic and cyber-rights expert, also commented on Erdoğan's move saying that Boğaziçi University's new two faculties will serve the purpose of being “a Trojan horse.”
“The necessary cadre to legitimize the rector will be given through these faculties. The new people will be appointed as vice-rectors and faculty deans deemed to be 'neglecting their duties,'” he wrote on Twitter.
Boğaziçi Hukuk ve İletişim Fakültelerinin ana amacı Truva Atı görevi yapmak olacak. Rektörü meşru kılmak için gerekli kadrolar bu Fakülteler üzerinden verilecek. Gelecek yeni isimler, rektör yardımcılığı ve vekaleten “görevini ihmal eden” fakülte dekanlarının da yerine atanacak.— Yaman Akdeniz (@cyberrights) February 6, 2021
Students address Erdoğan in open letter: You are not sultan, we are not your subjects
Meanwhile, Boğaziçi University students penned an open letter addressing Erdoğan, saying: “Do not mistake us for those who obey you unconditionally. You are not a sultan, and we are not your subjects.”
The open letter was shared by Boğaziçi Solidarity platform, explaining why the month-long protests have been going on and listing the students' demands.
“These are our demands:
o All our friends who have been arrested or detained in this period must be released immediately!
o All campaigns to defame and disenfranchise our LGBTI+ friends and all other targeted groups must end!
o All government-appointed trustees, starting with Melih Bulu, who instigated all these arrests, detentions, scapegoating campaigns, and threats, must resign!
o In universities, democratic rectorate elections must be held with the participation of all constituents of the university!”
“As long as Melih Bulu sits on that seat, we will continue our protest by strengthening our struggle, with all those who join the resistance. Whether or not you do what must be done is your own business. We stand with those who are robbed of their democratic rights and freedoms.
With hopes that you realize that you cannot silence the oppressed of these lands by shouting and threatening from arenas and podiums,” the letter ended as saying.