Turkish universities infamous for calling police on any student protest 'saddened' by police brutality in US campuses

Several Turkish universities, including Boğaziçi, METU, İTÜ, and Istanbul, known for their own history of calling police to suppress student and faculty protests, expressed their "sadness" and "concern" over reports of police brutality on U.S. campuses during pro-Palestinian protests.

Turkish police close Boğaziçi University's gates against student protests.

Duvar English

Several Turkish university administrations on April 25 shared messages to condemn police brutality in United States universities against pro-Palestinian protestors. 

For the last couple of weeks, several U.S. university administrations called police against students and faculty members protesting against Israel’s war in Gaza killing at least 34,356 Palestinians.

Boğaziçi University

Istanbul’s prestigious Boğaziçi University's government appointed rector who has not been acknowledged by the students and faculty shared a message on X regarding the arrest of Noelle McAfee, Chair of the Philosophy Department at Emory University.

“This troubling incident not only raises serious concerns about the state of academic freedom but also casts a shadow over the reputation of respected academic institutions. We stand in solidarity with the academic community that raises peaceful voices against brutality in Gaza,” he stated in a tweet close to replies.

İnci known for his harsh stance against any protest in university campus. He has called police to university to attack students dozens of times which resulted in arrest of some students. He has been barring university alumni and faculty members critical against him to enter university premises. 

Boğaziçi faculty protest for three years against the rectorate known for its attacks against students and academicians.

As the reactions amounted against his message, he on April 26 shared another message on X attacking three-year long protests against his university administration.

“The actions of a small elitist group, who see our university as their liberated zone and area of ​​domination, have been continuing on our campus for three years. Despite their reckless rhetoric, lies, slander, insults and statements targeting the reputation of our university, no intervention was made to these people as long as they did not harm the education at our school and the peaceful environment of other students,” he stated in his tweet attacking university faculty and students.

İnci has called riot police against the students who set up tents in a protests against his actions to curb academic freedoms in the university which resulted in detention of dozens of students with brute force. Most of the students in the U.S. organize protests in a same manner by setting up tents in the university premises.

In an another incident, he called riot police to attack LGBTI+ students celebrating pride month in the campus which resulted in detention of dozens of students with brute force once again.

This infamous photo shows the Boğaziçi University's gate locked with police handcuffs to prevent students from entering the campus.

On Oct. 19, when the leftist students organized a pro-Palestinian protests on the campus, the university campus was once again surrounded by riot police while İnci himself attended another protest organized by Islamist groups.

Since 2021, Turkish police has been waiting at the entrances of Boğaziçi University and enter premises even though it is illegal for security forces to enter university campuses without called by university administration "in the face of the possibility of incidents that cannot be prevented by the means of the institution."

Middle East Technical University

The capital Ankara’s prestigious Middle East Technical University (METU) also shared a message closed to any replies, “Students are detained during the protests, and universities switch to distance education to stop the protests. We regard the disproportionate reaction against the peaceful reaction of university students as a blow to fundamental human rights and academic freedom, and we deeply regret and strongly condemn it.”

As known for its vivid student movement, METU’s current rector Verşan Kök has a very dark history of calling police to attack protesters in the campus.

METU rectorate on June 9, 2023, invited hundreds of police to the university campus over the LGBTI+ pride march organized by the students. The police raided the university buildings and detained 15 students on campus, including library.

Police haunt LGBTI+ students in METU's faculty buildings upon the rectorate's instructions.

Currently, METU students has been protesting university rectorate for not allowing students to celebrate Spring Fest in the famous Devrim Stadium. Rector Kök has long been known for trying to ban any social event that can be turn into a protest against his administration.

Istanbul University

Istanbul’s oldest university Istanbul University also shared a similar message, “In the United States, especially Harvard, Columbia, Yale and New York Universities try to prevent protests calling for a ceasefire. Not only that, they also try to silence students who raise the common voice of human dignity with threats and pressure.”

Once a center of student mobilization, Istanbul University became a symbol for repression against student protests since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power.

On Dec. 19, Istanbul University campus security brutally attacked students who wanted to decorate a tree at the school for a New Year’s celebrations. Some students were injured as a result of the attack.

Ankara University

Ankara University also shared the same message that looked like a copy-paste text appeared in several universities social media pages, “We are profoundly saddened and vehemently condemn the disproportionate response to the peaceful demonstrations by university students, which we regard as a violation of academic freedom and fundamental human rights.”

In 2017, when Peace Academics were purged from universities, Ankara University closed its gates to dismissed faculty members and called riot police to attack them.

This infamous photo shows police entering Ankara University by stepping on faculty members' academic dress.

Several other universities shared the same message at the same night.