It has already turned out to be a lynch campaign against Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), one of the country’s few prominent universities whose graduates have contributed to Turkey’s development in almost all fields since its foundation in 1956.
Students’ protest against the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
who paid a rare visit to ODTÜ for the launch of Turkey’s first self-made satellite Göktürk-2 and the university’s rector, Prof. Ahmet Acar’s accusations that the security forces’ use of disproportional forces have been placed at the center of the lynch campaign.
Unsurprisingly, Erdoğan’s very harsh statement against ODTÜ and its academic staff started the process. He directly targeted the institutional identity of the university and the entire academic staff, saying “What a shame! Shame on the professors who raised those students. Is violence and terror a protest? Is this how it has to be?”
Following Erdoğan’s remarks late Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, Supreme Education Board (YÖK) Head Gökhan Çetinsaya announced that he had assigned the board’s auditing body to examine the students’ protests and ODTÜ’s management in handling this incident. That followed a chain of statements issued from almost all universities from all over the country, with many of them recently established and nearly non-existent with regard to their academic standings.
Aiming at isolating ODTÜ and its rector, the statements were condemning the use of violence (in particular Molotov cocktails, although it has not been proven) and the protest committed against the “leaders of the state,” obviously reflecting a very academic language and world view.”
In a very identical one, the Bingöl University’s statement reads as follows, “We want to share our opinion of disapproval of the behavior committed against our prime minister at a moment when our government providing very important and meaningful support to the universities in the Southeast and East should be appreciated.”
A joint communiqué issued by seven universities in Istanbul late Dec. 24, however, highlighted freedom of thought to overcome violent behavior, calling students to protest through their critical minds. It of course did not mention the hundreds of university students who are still in prisons for their non-violent protests, like opening placards or organizing protest rallies for the free education.
As if the government and security forces were tolerant toward the non-violent protests and as if they were hesitant in using their spray gas and batons against any sort of rallies, it’s interesting to hear those promoting peaceful demonstrations.
A universal and genuine democratic understanding does require tolerance toward opponents, especially toward university students who are future leaders of the country. Provoking government agencies and pro-government universities to lynch a university will serve nothing in the name of this country except for marking a black stain on the government.