Municipality halts bus service to ODTÜ campus as university toughens stance
During the latest in a series of clashes that erupted in ODTÜ campus on the night of Oct 21, the police used tear gas to disperse crowds. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZThe Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) rector has decided to officially protest against the cutting down of trees with new planting activities while Ankara Municipality’s public bus operator has announced it suspended bus services to campus, claiming vehicles have been attacked.
The conflict between Ankara Municipality and protestors over the removal of around 3,000 trees for a road construction passing through the university campus hasn’t eased since the municipality’s midnight raid on the last day of religious feast.
The ODTÜ management, which had previously dubbed the municipality’s cutting of trees as “unlawful” vowing to take legal action, said it was stepping up to organize a gathering to plant 3,000 new trees where they had been slashed on the night of Oct. 18.
“An event aimed at planting 3,000 trees on our campus will be organized on Oct. 24 or Oct. 25,” the written statement released by the rector’s office said, inviting all students and related people.
The ODTÜ senate is scheduled to have a meeting today in which it will examine the issue in detail and make a decision on future steps to be taken.
The senate decisions will be shared with the public tomorrow, the statement also noted.
A group of demonstrators consisting of students and environmentalists have already gathered several times to plant trees, in protest at the municipality’s destruction, prompting a police reaction.
During the latest in a series of clashes that erupted in the campus on the night of Oct. 21, the police repeatedly used tear gas to disperse crowds.
A group responded by throwing stones, and a police helicopter flying over the scene of the incidents assisted the police teams.
A protester who allegedly damaged a municipality vehicle has been detained.
Lack of safety cited for halt
After the clashes, Ankara Municipality’s public bus service operating subsidiary EGO announced it suspended all bus journeys to the ODTÜ campus, “until the ODTÜ management takes necessary measures.”
The EGO claimed protestors cut the wire of one of the municipality buses during yesterday’s clashes, endangering others’ lives “by making it a bomb ready to explode,” as it put it in the statement released yesterday.
“Another vehicle of ours was seized and damaged. Unfortunately, we had to take this decision to ensure the life safety of both our bus drivers and our citizens,” the statement read.