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Erdogan likens college students to terrorists, condemns Bogazici rallies

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Feb 3, 2021

ISTANBUL — Ongoing student-led protests which have seen greater than 300 folks detained this week had been denounced by a number of high Turkish officers Wednesday. In a few of his most heated remarks on the demonstrations but, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan likened protesting college students to terrorists, saying state officers wouldn’t tolerate the escalating unrest that has sparked generally violent rallies in various Turkish cities.

“Are you students or terrorists who dare to raid the room of the rector?” Erdogan requested throughout a videoconference Wednesday, referring to demonstrations at Istanbul’s Bogazici University Monday, when college students rallied near the government-appointed rector’s workplace to name for his resignation.

Since Jan. 4, college students have been protesting the appointment of Melih Bulu by Erdogan to move Bogazici University, certainly one of Turkey’s high academic establishments. Protesters declare Bulu, a longtime member of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, was undemocratically put in as college rector on Jan. 1 and his appointment infringes on tutorial independence.

Over the final month, demonstrations have grown, drawing help from college students at different universities, and police forces quelled rallies in Istanbul Tuesday with tear gasoline and rubber bullets after governor’s workplace issued a protest ban. Images on social media exhibiting protesters being violently detained by police drew an outcry from some Turkish residents and several other opposition social gathering members, who mentioned a disproportionate safety intervention had escalated largely peaceable rallies.

Now confronted with a number of the largest demonstrations for the reason that 2013 Gezi protests, Erdogan and his supporters moved to sentence protesters in an obvious try to stop additional rallies.

“This country won’t be a country dominated by terrorists. We will never allow it,” Erdogan mentioned Wednesday. “This country won’t relive incidents such as the Gezi events.”

Devlet Bahceli, chair of the Nationalist Movement Party and a key Erdogan ally, additionally criticized the protesters Wednesday, referring to them as “poisonous snakes” as well as “vandals and barbarians” that needs to be stopped by “whatever means necessary.”

The feedback got here after Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu made separate claims in televised statements Wednesday {that a} vital variety of detained college students had been linked to far-left terror teams.

“Seventy-nine of those arrested are members of terrorist organizations, including the DHKP/C,” Soylu mentioned, utilizing the acronym for the Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front. He added, “A minority [group] wants to make [Bogazici University] an ideological center. We won’t allow this.”

As the officers condemned demonstrators, about 100 college students organized a rally exterior Istanbul’s Caglayan courthouse Wednesday to name for the discharge of detained college students. Cagatay, a Bogazici pupil who took half within the rally and gave solely his first identify, mentioned Soylu’s feedback weren’t stunning.

“These are horrible accusations, but we’ve gotten used to them,” Cagatay instructed Al-Monitor. “This government has often defined any form of opposition as ‘terrorist.’”

Most of this week’s 300 detainees have been launched, whereas 29 stay in detention and 11 had been positioned below home arrest, in response to official statements. In response to the continued unrest, the nation’s main enterprise group, the Turkish Industry and Business Association, referred to as for “peaceful solutions” to current occasions Wednesday.

A rising variety of main opposition politicians have additionally weighed in, with Republican People’s Party chair Kemal Kilicdaroglu tweeting a video Tuesday reiterating requires Bulu to resign.

“We are faced with a political power holder that has lost its control. It is feeding on tension,” Kilicdaroglu mentioned, including, “I am making an open call to the government from here: Release the children of Turkey and put an end to this tension that you have created.”

In feedback revealed Wednesday by the Turkish day by day Haberturk, Bulu mentioned being the rector of Bogazici University was a long-held dream and he has by no means considered resigning amid the month-long backlash.

“I initially predicted this disaster could be over in six months and that is what’s going to occur,” Bulu instructed Haberturk. “The tension will subside. This crisis can end in six months.”

Though protests initially began over Bulu’s appointment — conducted through a process introduced in 2016 in which the Turkish president approves one of three rectoral candidates to universities — demonstrations intensified following the arrest of two Bogazici students this weekend for displaying a poster depicting one of Islam’s holiest sites with LGBT flags.

Since then, political rhetoric over the demonstrations has taken on broader cultural topics regarding the rights afforded to LGBT and minority communities in the country. Speaking Wednesday, Erdogan said “there is no such thing” as LGBT and, “This country is national and spiritual, and will continue to walk into the future as such.”

Earlier this week, Bulu drew criticism for blocking the applying for the institution of an LGBT pupil membership at Bogazici over procedural necessities. In press statements Wednesday, he mentioned he held no damaging emotions in opposition to LGBT people and was a “person who defends LGBT” college students.

Whether the feedback calm present tensions stays to be seen. Cagatay mentioned he and different protesting Bogazici college students would proceed demonstrating till tutorial independence is reestablished on the college.

“We are calling for his resignation, yes,” Cagatay instructed Al-Monitor. “But we won’t stop protesting if Bulu resigns and then another rector is appointed. We want a democratic election process.”


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