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bogazici melih bulu

On Jan­u­ary 1st 2021, Pres­i­dent Erdoğan replaced a “rec­tor” at the Uni­ver­si­ty of the Bospho­rus (Boğaz­içi) Uni­ver­si­ty in Istan­bul with the nom­i­na­tion of Pro­fes­sor Melih Bulu as tutor-administrator.

Melih Bulu is an aca­d­e­m­ic from out­side the Boğaz­içi com­mu­ni­ty and was also a can­di­date for the Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment Par­ty (AKP) presided by Erdo­gan, in the 2015 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. He is thus a mem­ber of the seraglio.

This inap­pro­pri­ate nom­i­na­tion gen­er­at­ed indig­na­tion among the stu­dents and the academics.

Stu­dents and sev­er­al of the uni­ver­si­ty’s stu­dent clubs cam­paigned on social media under the hash­tag #kayyım­rek­töris­temiy­oruz (We do not want an inter­im pres­i­dent for a uni­ver­si­ty under trusteeship).

A pub­li­ca­tion by Melih Bulu on Twit­ter, shared on May 24 2020 was back on social media. In it he denounced the loss of Turkey’s grey mat­ter, call­ing it a “drain” and sin­gling out Boğaz­içi Uni­ver­si­ty with con­tempt, the very one to which he is nom­i­nat­ed today: “The most impor­tant for­eign brain drain is from Boğaz­içi Uni­ver­si­ty”.

The ban­ner below refers to this “opin­ion”:
“We are not the ones flee­ing but you will be, Melih Bulu”

bogazici melih buluPolice Repression

On Jan­u­ary 4th, sev­er­al hun­dred stu­dents protest­ed against this imposed nom­i­na­tion in front of the South­ern cam­pus. Boğaz­içi Uni­ver­si­ty was total­ly sur­round­ed by a large deploy­ment of police who attempt­ed to keep the stu­dents from demon­strat­ing by “hand­cuff­ing” the doors to the cam­pus. There fol­lowed the use of gas, water can­nons and rub­ber bullets…


Pho­to : Youth Com­mit­tees / Twitter

Photos : Zeynep Kuray

Raids and Arrests…

On Jan­u­ary 5 arrest war­rants were tak­en out against 28 per­sons who “had par­tic­i­pat­ed” in the demon­stra­tions, for “vio­la­tion of Law 2911 on meet­ings and demon­stra­tions” and for “resis­tance to an offi­cer on duty.” In the ear­ly morn­ing, police con­duct­ed mus­cled raids in the homes of sev­er­al students.

Sev­en­teen stu­dents joined the four­teen per­sons who had been arrest­ed dur­ing the demon­stra­tions and were tak­en into police cus­tody. Five oth­ers were also arrest­ed lat­er in the day. Thus, there would cur­rent­ly be 36 per­sons in custody

bogaziciThe door of one stu­dent, who was not home, was smashed by the police…

The government: “Not even students!”

The Deputy Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or, İsm­ail Çatak­lı issued a dec­la­ra­tion on the mat­ter, under­lin­ing the fact that “only two of the 17 per­sons arrest­ed are stu­dents at Boğaz­içi Uni­ver­si­ty, the oth­ers are not even stu­dents” imply­ing that “pro­fes­sion­al” activists would have “infil­trat­ed” the protests. How­ev­er, two of the detained stu­dents are tru­ly from Boğaz­içi and the 14 oth­ers are stu­dents from Mar­mara, Mimar Sinan and Istan­bul uni­ver­si­ties, and one per­son not in face-to-face atten­dance.
Well, this is what is known as “sol­i­dar­i­ty among students”!…

The teaching staff is also angry

The stu­dents’ appeal was also sup­port­ed by the mem­bers of the uni­ver­si­ty who pub­lished a joint dec­la­ra­tion on Jan­u­ary 3.

We do not accept, we will not give up!

For the first time since the regime of mil­i­tary trustee­ship in 1980, an admin­is­tra­tor who is not a mem­ber of the uni­ver­si­ty’s teach­ing staff was nom­i­nat­ed on Jan­u­ary 1st 2021 at mid­night, as rec­tor at Boğaz­içi. This nom­i­na­tion fits in with the ongo­ing anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic prac­tices that have ban­ished the elec­tion of rec­tors by the teach­ing staff and which keep on get­ting worse since 2016. We do not accept this nom­i­na­tion, as it fla­grant­ly vio­lates aca­d­e­m­ic auton­o­my, sci­en­tif­ic free­dom and the demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues of our uni­ver­si­ty. We refuse to renounce the fol­low­ing prin­ci­ples, adopt­ed by the Sen­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty in 2012.

  1. For its sci­en­tif­ic and social advance­ment, it is unac­cept­able that the uni­ver­si­ty be sub­ject­ed to the influ­ence or the pres­sure exert­ed by any indi­vid­ual or estab­lish­ment, and that it be trans­formed into a polit­i­cal instrument.
  2. The Uni­ver­si­ty’s auton­o­my imper­a­tive­ly requires that the coun­cils and aca­d­e­m­ic admin­is­tra­tors with deci­sion­al pow­er be elect­ed in a demo­c­ra­t­ic man­ner. Any and all aca­d­e­m­ic admin­is­tra­tors, includ­ing deans, insti­tute direc­tors, direc­tors of the Grad­u­ate School and depart­men­tal direc­tors must be elect­ed and not nominated.
  3. In its con­sti­tu­tion­al statute as an autonomous estab­lish­ment, the Uni­ver­si­ty must decide on its own its aca­d­e­m­ic pro­grams and sci­en­tif­ic poli­cies through its teach­ing staff and/or its inter­nal aca­d­e­m­ic coun­cils. This is a sine qua non con­di­tion for auton­o­my and sci­en­tif­ic inventivity.
  4. We com­mit our­selves, along with the oth­er ele­ments of the uni­ver­si­ty, to stand by these prin­ci­ples to the end.

Boğaz­içi Uni­ver­si­ty’s teach­ing staff

In response to the arrests, mem­bers of the teach­ing staff at Boğaz­içi Uni­ver­si­ty pre­sent­ed them­selves in front of the office of the Uni­ver­si­ty pres­i­dent on the South­ern cam­pus. Turn­ing their backs on the build­ing and applaud­ing as a sign of protest, they read the fol­low­ing dec­la­ra­tion and called on the author­i­ties to free the stu­dents tak­en into police custody.

Speak­ing to the stu­dents, pro­fes­sor Esra Mungan declared: “We will not give up. We are enraged, but we feel much stronger. Either every­one, either none of us…This coun­try can­not con­tin­ue this way. The strug­gle will go on. If this coun­try knows hap­py days, it will see them with you.”

Ongoing protests

The protests are ongo­ing despite the arrests. The stu­dents called for a gen­er­al assem­bly on the South­ern cam­pus for 2 PM today, Jan­u­ary 6th. A demonstration/march is tak­ing place on the shores of the Bospho­rus in Istanbul.

The office of Istan­bul’s gov­er­nor has announced that demon­stra­tions and march­es are now for­bid­den in the dis­tricts of Besik­tas and Sarıy­er were the cam­pus­es of Boğaz­içi Uni­ver­si­ty are locat­ed and the Istan­bul gov­er­nor, Ali Yer­likaya pub­lished a brief dec­la­ra­tion on his twit­ter account: “Cer­tain orga­ni­za­tions and groups in civ­il soci­ety have called through the press and through social media for assem­blies today in front of the cam­pus of Boğaz­içi Uni­ver­si­ty. Giv­en the deci­sions tak­en by the Pub­lic Health Coun­cils of our Besik­tas and Sarıy­er dis­tricts and giv­en the fact the planned assem­bly could have a neg­a­tive impact on efforts aimed at pro­tect­ing soci­ety against the epi­dem­ic and in halt­ing its prop­a­ga­tion, all man­ner of meet­ings, demon­stra­tions and march­es have been for­bid­den in our dis­tricts. The Repub­lic of Turkey is a State under the rule of law; all are equal in front of the law. We expect all our cit­i­zens to abstain from any atti­tude or behav­ior that would con­sti­tute a crime and ask them to act in good faith. Our secu­ri­ty forces are always at the ser­vice of our peace and of our safety.”

The State will demonstrate that it is the State” 

As for Mehmet Ersoy, Deputy Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or, he tweet­ed screen grabs from old social media posts by one of the detainees and declared: “You should be under no doubt on this top­ic: The State will demon­strate that it is the State.”


Pho­to: “Kam­püs Cadıları” (the Cam­pus Witches)

The stu­dent “awak­en­ing’ in Istan­bul, on the grounds of a “nom­i­na­tion” from on high sends a pos­i­tive note for Turkey at the start of 2021, espe­cial­ly know­ing that a wom­en’s move­ment of the “Me too” type is also devel­op­ing. Vital forces, par­tic­u­lar­ly among young peo­ple sub­sist despite the regime’s lead­en weight and only wish to find room for expres­sion. It is true that up until now, part of the young stu­dents from the mid­dle class­es chose exile when faced by the polar­iza­tion of Turk­ish soci­ety, not to men­tion for the men in order to flee from mil­i­tary con­scrip­tion, but the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic and the restric­tion of move­ment are set­ting the caul­dron to boil­ing for this seg­ment of youth.

The regime had large­ly tak­en advan­tage of the attempt­ed coup d’é­tat in 2016 in order to con­duct repres­sions and purges against the Uni­ver­si­ty, com­bin­ing into a sin­gle move­ment the “Aca­d­e­mics for Peace” and the par­ti­sans of the F. Gülen Broth­er­hood, under the terms of “ter­ror­ists”. Thus was the aca­d­e­m­ic staff dras­ti­cal­ly reduced. But the insti­tu­tion remains a bas­tion of resis­tance, much weak­ened undoubt­ed­ly and rather favor­able to the Lib­er­al Kemal­ist opposition.

Thus, this “nom­i­na­tion”, con­trary to all acquired rules that are still defend­ed, rais­es a prob­lem since it seems to mean a sys­tem­at­ic attack by the regime in order to reduce this final demo­c­ra­t­ic pock­et of resis­tance and put it under its sway.

This will to con­trol and exer­cise a trustee­ship over a Uni­ver­si­ty it still find dis­turb­ing could not but pro­voke a strong reac­tion and the ensu­ing police repres­sion. Will this new year of 2021 see the spread­ing of a mobi­liza­tion by youth? It is still too ear­ly to tell, but the sim­ple fact it has occurred in win­ter is a promise of spring.

Fea­tur­ing image : by Gian­lu­ca Costan­ti­ni sur Twit­ter @channeldraw. The orig­i­nal is here.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.