Turkish pro-gov't media claims UK behind Boğaziçi University protests

Turkish pro-government media has claimed that Boğaziçi University protests were supported by Britain, in a move aimed at discrediting protestors and solidarity with students. It is a frequent attempt of Turkey's pro-government media outlets to link “external powers” with protestors whenever a demonstration in protest of the government's policies takes place.

Police use violence and tear gas against Boğaziçi University students on Jan 4.

Duvar English

Turkish pro-government media outlet A Haber has said that the U.K. had "supported" the Jan. 4 protests that took place at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's appointment of a rector to the university, and referred to the protests as a “chaos plan.”

A Haber based its report on social media posts shared by BBC reporter Mark Lowen and the Turkey correspondent of the Economist, Piotr Zalewski, with regards to the protests. Lowen and Zalewski had shared images showing the police violence against the students on Jan. 4.

The pro-government media outlet also labeled the students protesting rector Melih Bulu's appointment as “members of the CHP and PKK,” two acronyms used for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"BBC and The Economist reporters are giving a serious support to the chaos plan at Boğaziçi University, which also the CHP and PKK show a big interest in. Here is the U.K. hand and chaos plan at Boğaziçi University," read A Haber's report.

It is a frequent attempt of Turkish pro-government media outlets to use the PKK and CHP in the same sentence to create a negative image in the eyes of the public for the latter. They also associate terror groups with protestors whenever an anti-government protest takes place.

During the 2013 Gezi Park protests, pro-government media outlets similarly said that the PKK and FETÖ (being the acronym for the Gülen network) were behind the protests, and labeled the protestors as such. As Turkish political leaders, they repeated the cliche of viewing protestors as tools of a much larger scheme put in place by external powers to destabilize Turkey.

For example, newspaper Taksim published a fake interview with CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour in June of 2013, quoting her as saying that CNN had covered the Gezi Park protests on behalf of business interests that wanted to hurt the country’s economy.

On June 18, 2013, Takvim dedicated its cover to the story under the headline “dirty confession,” with a subtitle reporting that Amanpour confessed, “We did everything for money.”

Amanpour at the time expressed her indignation over the newspaper's fake interview, posting on her Twitter account: “Shame on you @Takvim for publishing FAKE interview with me.”

In a separate case, newspaper Yeni Şafak distorted an interview it did with well-known American professor Noam Chomsky in August of 2013. Yeni Şafak later released a statement, admitting to fabricating some sentences in the interview.

Analysts at the time said that these two instances have added to the long list of examples that go well beyond the “journalist irresponsibility” of Turkish pro-government media.