Turkish authorities have placed hundreds of student demonstrators under criminal investigation, Human Rights Watch said today.
The students have been arrested during weeks of protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdogans’ appointment of an academic closely linked to the government as rector of one of Turkey’s top universities.
Students and academic staff at Istanbul Bogazici University have exercised their legitimate right to peacefully express their opposition to the appointment, which they see as a measure to impose government control over the institution and undermine academic autonomy and freedom.
Erdogans ‘appointment of an unelected rector at the University of Bogazici and the violent arrests of students who peacefully protested against the decision sum up governments’ disregard for basic human rights, said Hugh Williamson, director of Europe and Asia Central Human Rights Watch. Imposing an unelected rector appointed by the president on a university without consultation demonstrates a lack of respect for the academic freedom and autonomy of universities in Turkey.
Human Rights Watch interviewed eighteen students, including four who had been released from police custody, four lawyers and two academics, analyzed legal footage and documents, and followed four student protests.
Protests by students and faculty members began after President Erdogan appointed Melih Bulu rector of the University of Bogazici on January 1, 2021. Bulu, a political ally of the chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP ), worked in academia and in the defense industry. , and previously served as rector of two private universities.
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