University students protest in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir

Once again, students have taken to the streets in several cities in Turkey to protest the government's appointment of rectors and encroachment on academic autonomy.

Protests have been held at several universities in Turkey against the appointment of an AKP politician as rector of Boğaziçi University. A vigil is being held in front of the rector's office on Istanbul's Boğaziçi campus, and tents have been erected. Students at Istanbul Technical University, as well as in Ankara and Izmir, have shown solidarity with the protest.

Istanbul: Interference in the autonomy of universities

Students issued a statement of support in front of the rectorate of Istanbul Technical University. The statement, read out by Gökçe Yılmaz, called the appointment of trustees at universities an unacceptable interference in the autonomy of universities. Yılmaz recalled that Melih Bulu, who was appointed to Boğaziçi University by President and AKP leader Tayyip Erdogan, is a party member who has played politics for the AKP for many years and was even a candidate in parliamentary elections in the past. Thus, the AKP had not appointed a rector, but a party stalwart, she added.

According to Gökçe Yılmaz, the ruling party wants to hijack universities in order to prevent scientific education: "The AKP must preserve the academic autonomy of universities as centers of scientific production. It must refrain from its reactionary and market-oriented interventions against universities. The government is interfering in the atmosphere of free thinking and must listen to our demands." The students demand Bulu's resignation and elections that take into account the opinion of all university bodies.

Ankara: Let's take back what belongs to us!

At Ankara University, students walked across campus with banners and signs in solidarity with Boğaziçi University. The police sealed off the central entrance to the campus, after which the demonstration passed through a side entrance. Journalists were denied access by the police. In response, the students chanted, "Police out, journalists in!"

Helin Sude Gümüş, a student at the protest, said that students from all faculties at Ankara University were showing solidarity with their fellow students in Istanbul. She recalled that the students in Istanbul had started the protests at the beginning of last week and their apartments were stormed the very next day by a martial police force. Violence was used and those affected, along with their relatives, were threatened with firearms. Attempts were made to intimidate students who exercised their democratic right to protest.