Academics worldwide in solidarity with Boğaziçi University students for academic freedom

Academics worldwide in solidarity with Boğaziçi University students for academic freedom


A global solidarity campaign has been launched with the students of Turkey’s Boğaziçi University who have been protesting for a month against the appointment of an AKP supporter as rector.

Students at Boğaziçi University have been protesting against the new rector of their university since early January. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed Melih Bulu, who was a candidate for deputy for the AKP in 2015, on New Year’s Day. Since the presidential system came into effect in July 2018, the AKP leader alone has been authorized to appoint rectors at state universities. Universities had already been deprived of the right to elect their own directors under the state of emergency following the 2016 coup attempt.

Students criticize, among other things, Bulu’s closeness to the AKP. But they also condemn the appointment as undemocratic and against the university’s tradition of electing its directors itself. The student body calls the new rector a “trustee”. They see the government’s fear of a new Gezi uprising as the reason for the brutal violence against the protests.

A large number of academics from all over the world have joined a Signature campaign in solidarity with Boğaziçi University students in their struggle for academic freedom and autonomy. The signature campaign has been joined by nearly 3 thousand academics so far.

The text of the campaign reads:

“Turkey’s AKP government continues to undermine the rights and freedoms of individuals as well as the principle of autonomy of universities and civic organizations. Most recently, Turkish police have attacked and detained dozens of students who peacefully protested the AKP’s attempt to assert political control over Boğaziçi University in İstanbul.

On January 1, 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used an emergency decree from 2016 (KHK 676) to appoint Professor Melih Bulu, a loyal member of the ruling party, rector of Boğaziçi University. Bulu is not a member of the Boğaziçi University faculty, which violates the established rules and practices of University governance.

This attempt by President Erdoğan to bring Boğaziçi University under his control has sparked widespread faculty and student protest. The government’s response has been brutal. Erdoğan has called the students “terrorists” and LGBTI+ students in particular have been singled out for harassment. The police have conducted home raids with guns drawn, detained and strip searched protestors, and engaged in torture.

We the undersigned condemn these actions and stand in solidarity with the students and faculty of Boğaziçi University. We call upon Professor Bulu to decline the position and we call upon the Turkish government to release any students still in custody, withdraw all charges, and respect academic freedom and university autonomy.”

Research Institute on Turkey
Academic Solidarity Network
PEN America
Article 19
Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project
Academics for Peace – North America
Academics for Peace – Germany
Solidarité avec les Universitaires pour la Paix et Défense des Droits Humains en Turquie (SUP-DDHT) – France
Scholars at Risk (SAR)
SAR – Italy
EuroMed Rights
Interflugs – Berlin
SUNY Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU) – New York
AGSEM Executive committee, McGill University
Politics Department at Ithaca College, New York
Philosophy Department at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania
PhD/MA Program in Political Science, The Graduate Center, CUNY – New York
The Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center, CUNY – New York
SENS-UAW (The union of Student Academic Workers at The New School) – New York
Frederic Bastiat Institute of Cape Coast Technical University – Africa
The Board of the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE), Europe

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