Turkey’s oldest fine arts university asked to evict historic building in Istanbul

Turkey’s oldest fine arts university asked to evict historic building in Istanbul

Turkey’s oldest fine arts university asked to evict historic building in Istanbul

Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, which was established in 1882 by the renowned Ottoman statesman Osman Hamdi Bey, has been asked to evacuate the historic building it uses for the State Conservatory, amid claims that it will be used by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The university announced on June 21 that the Parliament Speaker’s Office sent a written request for the eviction, noting that it would be carried out by the police on June 26 if the building was not voluntarily evicted.

The building currently houses the university’s State Conservatory, seen as the most respected conservatory in Turkey.

After tens of thousands of people signed petitions to "save the conservatory," the Parliament Speaker’s Office announced on June 23 that the eviction has been postponed until the university completes its final exams and officials assign a new building.

Legality of eviction order debated

The university rector’s office stressed that a legal case is still proceeding and vowed not to evict the building unless they are given another building by the state, adding that the order is unconstitutional.

The Parliament Speaker’s Office denied that the eviction order was illegal in a statement on June 22, claiming that parliament has a legal duty to protect the building, which was once a part of the Dolmabahçe Palace complex.

“After the eviction, the building will be restored in accordance to its historic heritage and become a Library and Cultural Center of the Dolmabahçe Palace Museum,” it added.

The Speaker’s Office also accused the university administration of “not cooperating” despite a number of court rulings declining the university’s request for a stay of execution. It said the rector’s office tried to “mislead public opinion with unreal statements.”

Rector: 'We will fight back'

Mimar Sinan University rector, Professor Yalçın Karayağız, condemned the eviction order.

“For us, this decision is null and void. They will see us at the gates of the school on June 26. We are not going to evacuate the building. We are not going anywhere unless the state finds us another place,” Karayağız said.

“This is not a make-shift house but a school building. The legal process is not even over yet,” he said, adding that the eviction order is a “violation of the right to education.”

“They are trying to throw us out. But that will not be easy. We will fight back,” Karayağız said.

Meanwhile the rector’s office has also issued a statement, saying the university senate will hold a meeting on June 26. Following the meeting, staff and the students will be informed about developments at the campus, the statement added.

It was earlier claimed that the historic building would be used by President Erdoğan, as the current Prime Minister’s Office inside the Dolmabahçe Palace is due to be turned into a presidential office.

The Prime Minister’s Office itself was created by converting the university’s Paintings and Sculptures Museum.