ODTÜ students in tent protest against Ankara Municipality for campus-crossing road
ANKARA - Hürriyet
ODTÜ’s leafy campus is one of the greenest areas of Ankara. DHA photoA group of students at Ankara’s prestigious Middle East Technical University’s (ODTÜ) politically-aware campus has taken a stand on Aug. 25 against a new road that is set to be built inside its perimeter.
The group erected tents and started to camp to prevent the construction of the road that will cross land owned by the university and requires cutting down a large number of trees on its way.
ODTÜ’s leafy campus is one of the greenest areas of Ankara and has become an island of trees in the last years after a construction boom in the surrounding area that also affected the car traffic in the vicinity.
The Turkish capital’s outspoken and controversial Mayor Melih Gökçek is now planning to build an alternative road to alleviate the congested traffic on the Eskişehir roadway’s junctures by directly connecting the populated areas at the West of the campus to the Konya highway.
Gökçek recently told reporters that they had been “pounding at ODTÜ’s door” to get their approval for the project. “We have submitted 27 projects, they have okayed with difficulty the 27th. We are absolutely not disturbing ODTÜ with the construction,” Gökçek had assured on July 31.
An over-confident Gökçek, who defied gung-ho the BBC and CNN during the Gezi Park protests, had proposed a couple of years ago to organize a referendum if the students continued to object to the construction. He also said that the plan for the road was completed by his predecessor Murat Karayalçın. Ankara’s pre-Gökçek era dates back to 1993, when the area was not so urbanized and some of the protesting students plausibly weren’t even born.
ODTÜ students had previously held a symbolic sealing demonstration at the building site and gave a press statement in front of the Urban Planning and Environment Ministry to express their opposition to the road construction.
Many scuffles erupted at the end of the study year on the campus, prompting police forces to resort to water cannon trucks (TOMAs) and tear gas to quell the students.