147 Turkish writers publish statement of solidarity with Boğaziçi University students

A total of 147 prominent Turkish writers issued a statement today in solidarity with Boğaziçi University students and their protests, Turkish media reported.

The writers, including renowned authors such as Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, Elif Şafak and Aslı Erdoğan, said they supported the students’ democratic right to object to the appointment of a rector by the Turkish president and observed with concern the violation of their rights.

They added that not only had top government officials used hate speech and described the students as terrorists, but they had also supported the unlawful detention of hundreds of students. “This clearly shows that our country has drifted away from the constitutional order,” they said.

The writers said they wholeheartedly supported the resistance to political pressure and persecution.

The protests first erupted after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan named a party loyalist, Melih Bulu, as head of Boğaziçi University at the start of the year.

More than 500 students and their supporters were detained in İstanbul and Ankara in increasingly violent and politically charged altercations with the police last week. Ten students have been arrested, while 24 were put under house arrest.

Critics slammed the appointment of Bulu, saying he was unqualified for the job and that a state-appointed rector harmed the independence of the university.

Bulu was a candidate to become a member of parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2015 elections and led a district branch of the AKP in Istanbul. He was also the leader of a team of “virtual raiders” that was established to respond to negative comments online towards President Erdoğan and the AKP and to spread pro-AKP propaganda.

There have also been claims that Bulu plagiarized his master’s and Ph.D. theses. Following the allegations, the higher education council closed Bulu’s theses to online access.

In a statement shared on social media, university faculty members said they would not accept the appointment of the rector “as it clearly violates academic freedom and independence as well as the democratic values of our university.”

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