Boğaziçi University’s students protest partisan rector appointed by Turkey’s Erdoğan at graduation ceremony

Students at Turkey’s prestigious Boğaziçi University staged a protest at their graduation ceremony against its pr0-Erdoğan and partisan rector Mehmed Özkan who was appointed by Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as contrary to the election traditions of the university,  reported Turkish media.

It was reported that Rector Prof. Mehmed Özkan was delivering a speech in the ceremony on Wednesday when the students turned their backs on him and started blowing whistles and clapping to protest his appointment to the post, to which its previous rector, Gülay Barbarosoğlu, was initially elected.

President Erdoğan appointed Özkan as the rector of the university on Nov. 12, 2016, after he was given authority to directly appoint rectors without having to consider the preferences of academics following the imposition of a state of emergency decree on Oct. 29, 2016.

A former lecturer in Boğaziçi University’s biomedical engineering department, Özkan was not among candidates in the rectorship elections on July 12, 2016. Barbarosoğlu, on the other hand, had won 86 percent of the vote on a turnout of 90 percent in the July 2016 rectorship election.

The protest also received support from the audience attending the graduation ceremony. Students also carried banners reading slogans in support of academic Nuriye Gülmen and primary school teacher Semih Özakça, who have been on a hunger strike for over 105 days. The educators’ health conditions are reported to be severely deteriorating.

“We won’t surrender to trustees and state of emergency decrees,” one of the banners read, with another one demanding “Nuriye and Semih, those resisting, to live.”

Gülmen and Özakça started their hunger strike in order to be reinstated to their jobs, which they lost with state of emergency decrees.  Thousands of people have been suspended or dismissed from their posts with the executive decrees of the government which rules Turkey under the emergency rule more than 11 months since controversial coup attempt on Jult 15, 2016.

Turkey survived a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13.

June 22, 2017

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