ODTÜ rector issues warning about drawing university into conflict as fresh protests erupt
ISTANBUL / ANKARA
Fresh protests erupted on Sept. 7 in ODTÜ against a road project that will cross the leafy campus and lead to the destruction of nearly 3,000 trees. AA photoThe rector of Ankara's Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) has said the ongoing road dispute on campus should be solved with an agreement between the parties, warning that the university was being "drawn into a conflict."
"It is obvious that the problems arising from the road project issue should be solved through democratic processes and an agreement between all parties," Ahmet Acar said in a statement on Sept. 7.
Fresh protests erupted at the road construction site next to one of the entrances of the campus shortly after Acar's statement. Police quelled once again protesters firing water cannons and tear gas.
Ankara police chief Kadir Ay has personally come to the site to supervise the security officers, daily Hürriyet reported.
10 protesters have been detained by the police, media reports said.
In his statement, Acar also referred to a recent incident involving the harassment of headscarved women by university students. The incident was reported as a protest against the use of headscarves in universities, but the students who initiated it say it was rather a demonstration against the activities of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen's "Hizmet" (service) movement on the ODTÜ campus.
"With the protest opposing a road that will link to Anadolu Boulevard and the latest incident that was reported as an 'intervention against headscarved students,' ODTÜ is being drawn into these conflicts, even becoming their center," he said.
The statement came after protests against a road project that will cross the leafy campus and lead to the destruction of nearly 3,000 trees intensified on Sept. 6.
Acar stated that most of the protesters attending the demonstrations on Sept. 6 evening were not ODTÜ students.
"A group of around 1,000 demonstrators, most of whom were not ODTÜ students, were gathered outside the A-4 gate. A clash erupted between the police and protesters at around 7:50 p.m. and the group entered the campus through the A-4 gate. During the clashes that gradually diminished until 1:00 a.m., police responded to protesters throwing stones by firing tear gas," his statement said.
Acar added that a number of protesters and security officials had been injured in the incidents. "The fires that broke out due to the tear gas canisters have also been put out by protesters and our officials," he said.
The Ankara Municipality's road project had caused huge indignation, leading the students take action. Protesters opposing the construction of the road project connecting Anadolu Boulevard with Konya Highway have been staging an "occupy protest" in the area since last month.
ODTÜ's leafy campus is one of the greenest areas of Ankara and has become an oasis of trees in recent years, after a construction boom in the surrounding area that also increased the traffic volume.
Meanwhile, another group of activists gathered in front of the university to protest the incident involving the headscarved students.
The group condemned the incident and asked for the respect of the students wearing headscarves.