Turkish police on Thursday used excessive force to detain at least seven students from İstanbul’s Boğaziçi University to prevent them from making a public statement protesting the arrest of two of their friends on Wednesday, the Kronos news website reported.
During the detentions, the police pushed journalists outside the area, preventing them from covering the incident. Journalist Erdinç Yılmaz from Halk TV was reportedly beaten during the skirmish.
The students, who wanted to march with photographs of their arrested friends, were not allowed to leave the campus.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday attended an event that marked the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year, targeting Boğaziçi students in a speech and accusing them, once again, of being terrorists.
Demonstrating against Erdoğan’s remarks, the students, who were marching towards the university’s South Campus to make a public statement, encountered the police, who detained 10 of them.
Of the detainees, two were arrested and five others were released under judicial supervision, while three were released without charges.
A prolonged series of protests broke out at the university after Erdoğan appointed Melih Bulu, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Sarıyer district branch and former deputy chairman of the AKP’s İstanbul provincial chapter, as rector in early January.
Students claimed the move was a part of Erdoğan’s broader effort to centralize control over universities and that it undercuts academic freedoms and democracy.
Since early 2021 hundreds demanding the resignation of Bulu and the appointment of a rector from the university staff after the holding of an election have been detained for participating in the youth-driven protests.
Shortly after Bulu’s dismissal with a presidential decree in July, the university community demanded that a democratic election be held at the university to elect a new rector, adding that they would not accept the appointment of a new rector to replace Bulu, either from within or without the university, since they oppose the appointment of rectors by Erdoğan.
However, Erdoğan on August 20 appointed Naci İnci, a former deputy to Bulu, as the new rector, despite a 95 percent disapproval rating he received in polls held among the university community to determine possible rector candidates, and again prompting outrage among academics and students.