Students protest appointed rector at graduation ceremony in Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University
ISTANBULStudents at Istanbul’s prestigious Boğaziçi University have staged a protest against its appointed rector at their graduation ceremony.
Rector Prof. Mehmed Özkan was delivering a speech in the ceremony on June 21 when the students turned their backs on him and started blowing whistles and clapping to protest his appointment to the post, to which its previous rector, Gülay Barbarosoğlu, was initially elected.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed Özkan as the rector of the university on Nov. 12, 2016, after he was given authority to directly appoint rectors without having to consider the preferences of academics following the imposition of a state of emergency decree on Oct. 29 of the same year.
A former lecturer in Boğaziçi University’s biomedical engineering department, Özkan was not among candidates in the rectorship elections on July 12, 2016. Barbarosoğlu, on the other hand, had won 86 percent of the vote on a turnout of 90 percent in the July 2016 rectorship election.
The protest also received support from the audience attending the graduation ceremony.
Students also carried banners reading slogans in support of academic Nuriye Gülmen and primary school teacher Semih Özakça, who have been on a hunger strike for over 105 days. The educators’ health conditions are reported to be severely deteriorating.
“We won’t surrender to trustees and state of emergency decrees,” one of the banners read, with another one demanding “Nuriye and Semih, those resisting, to live.”
Gülmen and Özakça started their hunger strike in order to be reinstated to their jobs, which they lost with state of emergency decrees.
Turkey declared a state of emergency after the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), and has been issuing emergency decrees ever since.
Thousands of people have been suspended or dismissed from their posts with the decrees.