Turkish university graduation ceremony witnesses pro- and anti-Gezi Park protests
Nazlı Avşaroğlu ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Students walked through the stadium in the university’s main campus in Maslak with banners about the Gezi Park protests. DHA PhotoA group of Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters entered Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) Stadium as students chanted slogans in solidarity with the Gezi Park protests during the graduation ceremony July 8.
At the beginning of the ceremony, thousands of students who graduated from 13 different faculties walked through the stadium in the university’s main campus in Maslak with banners about the Gezi Park protests, which have turned into nationwide antigovernment rallies after a police crackdown on a sit-in against a controversial city center renovation plan.
While civil engineering graduates came to the area with helmets, other graduates came up with gas masks, in reference to two tools frequently used in the protests.
The slogans “everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance” and “resist İTÜ” were chanted during the faculties’ walk. The students’ antigovernment slogans were supported by families and some faculty members with applause.
Shortly before the Turkish national anthem, a group of AKP supporters entered the stadium and attempted to open a poster of AKP leader and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while the faculties were still walking through the stadium with antigovernment posters.
“They were holding stones to throw them at students,” a witness said. After a few stones were thrown, the interruption was stopped by İTÜ security and faculty members. The group was then taken out of the stadium.
The students’ protests continued during university rector Dr. Mehmet Karaca’s speech. They chanted the slogan “Rector resign!” and also turned their backs on Karaca, whom the students criticized for not supporting the Gezi Park protests.