Istanbul Bilgi University students accuse school management of negligence in attack on Women’s Day demo
Fırat Alkaç/Önder Öndeş - ISTANBULStudents and academics from Bilgi University have accused the school’s administrators of negligence regarding a knife attack on a booth erected to mark International Women’s Day.
A mob illegally entered the Bilgi University campus in central Istanbul to attack students on March 8, prompting widespread anger among students and social media users.
A group of around 100 students gathered in the garden of the university’s Santral campus to make a press statement on March 9. İrem Esmer, who was wounded in the attack, also participated in the gathering.
Saying the perpetrators included students from the university and that they had previously been the subject of complaints, the students said the attack was “not an isolated incident” and that they had been subjected to threats and harassment for the past two years.
“We deployed self-defense against the male group that attacked us with knives, and that’s how we emerged from the incident without severe injury. This is not an isolated attack; it is the latest point in the threats and harassments we have been systematically subjected to for the past two years. We reported these threats and harassments to the rector’s office countless times, but no action was taken regarding these people,” said Rabia Demircioğlu, one of the students.
Another student, Zeynep Sarıkaya, who is among the members of the Bilgi Women’s Club that set up the booth, said they recognized some of the attackers.
“There is a group called the Nationalist Thought Club at the university. For the past two years, they’ve been threatening us on social media or face to face. We complained about this group and its members to the rector’s office,” Sarıkaya said.
The academics, meanwhile, said “brute force has no place in universities.”
“Universities are the place to produce ideas. There is no place for those who can exist with brute force rather than ideas. We stand together with our victimized students,” they said.
After the statements, student representatives went to the rector’s office to speak to Deputy Rector Ege Yazgan, asking about the measures regarding their complaints and the current state of the investigations.
Yazgan said he had no information on the progress of the investigation, which prompted the students to stage a protest against the rector by clapping. Yazgan left the scene after the protests.
Speaking to daily Hürriyet about the incident, Yazgan said security measures had been increased at the university.
“We increased the security measures on the campus after warnings from the [Istanbul] Governor’s Office and the police. We installed turnstiles at the entrance. The group of 15-20 people jumped over the turnstiles and security didn’t intervene harshly, thinking that they were students who were protesting the new measures,” he said, adding that there may be two or three students in the group and that they were examining the footage from security cameras.
Meanwhile, six people who were detained over the attack were released after their testimonies were taken.