Students on trial for Boğaziçi protests acquitted

Students on trial for Boğaziçi protests acquitted

Students on trial for Boğaziçi protests acquitted

An Istanbul court has acquitted some 12 students who were on trial for “demonstrating despite restrictions” at Boğaziçi University.

The court decided to acquit the defendants separately on the grounds that the elements of the crime charged against them did not occur.

According to the indictment prepared by Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, 12 students “unfurled LGBT flags” and marched on March 25, 2021, to protest against Melih Bulu, who was appointed as the rector of the university.

The students reportedly did not disperse despite the police’s warnings that there was a decision to restrict meetings, demonstrations and statements within the scope of “COVID-19 measures.”

They were asked to be imprisoned from six months to three years for the crime of “participating in illegal meetings and marches and not dispersing despite warnings.”

Students began their protests saying the appointment of Bulu as rector was undemocratic.

Bulu was dismissed from his post by a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette on July 15, 2021. He didn’t make a statement regarding the decision and no official reason was given for his dismissal.

Mehmet Naci İnci from the Faculty of Science and Literature was appointed as the acting rector of the major research university.

Rector elections in Türkiye were lifted in 2016 with the order of an emergency decree created and passed by the Council of Ministers under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Though candidate rectors were previously selected among the academics elected by faculty members and the students, the regulation allows for the selection to be done only by Higher Education Council (YÖK) members.

Founded in the 19th century as Robert College, Boğaziçi University is the first American university outside the U.S. and has always ranked high among other public universities with its quality of education.

Its alumni include former prime ministers, prominent CEOs, film directors and authors.