Turkish government to tighten security at campuses on Gezi concerns

Turkish government to tighten security at campuses on Gezi concerns

Turkish government to tighten security at campuses on Gezi concerns

The Interior Ministry asks that necessary precautions be taken at universities ‘in order to avoid activities aimed at destroying educational environment.’ Daily News Photo, Selahattin Sönmez

Turkey’s Interior Ministry has demanded heightened security measures inside university campuses and dormitories ahead of the upcoming academic term out of fear that the latent anger from the Gezi protests explodes once more in a “hot autumn.”

According to a circular sent to governor’s offices and the offices of the Higher Education Loans and Dormitories Institution (Yurt-Kur/KYK), working under the Youth and Sports Ministry and the Higher Education Board (YÖK), security measures will be increased during campus visits of deputies, ministers and senior officials, Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.

Interior Minister Muammer Güler, speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Georgian Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili yesterday, confirmed the circular, noting that it was released on Aug. 27.

“We are aware of incidents that people wish to create via the use of certain sensitivities as a pretext,” Güler said.

The release of the circular came around three months after the beginning of the Gezi Park unrest which was sparked in late May due to the government’s plans to destroy Gezi Park in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. According to figures from the Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB), five people, four of them protesters, were killed and more than 8,000 people were injured during the Gezi protests and subsequent clashes.

“Those who want to try it should know that all the security forces of this country are ready to give the necessary response and to put everybody in his proper place in case he doesn’t know his limits,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said earlier in August, when asked about a possible “hot autumn” looming as suggested by some analysts.

In the circular, the ministry emphasized the need to hold security meetings under the direction of governors and with the participation of rectors and security officials before the new academic year starts while urging school authorities not to permit any illegal protests.

The ministry asked that necessary precautions be taken both during the university enrollment period and during the new academic year “in order to avoid activities aimed at destroying educational environment and to ensure the continuity of security and before possible events take place in and around university dormitories.”

In late July, as part of the government’s efforts to grapple with politicized football fans in the wake of this summer’s Gezi Park protests, Güler announced that supporters would be banned from chanting political slogans during this year’s football games.

But since the Turkish Super League 2013-2014 season kicked off on Aug. 15, fans have repeatedly sung “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance” in many matches.

1,331 cameras in Ankara

Güler, meanwhile, said that thanks to 1,331 cameras used as part of the Ankara City Security Administration System, 2,608 people were taken into custody between December 2010 and April 2013.

Güler’s statement came on Aug. 29 in response to a motion submitted by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy leader Sezgin Tanrıkulu. Güler, however, fell short of responding to Tanrıkulu’s questions about how long the footage was being kept, in how many cases rapid intervention was achieved and how many cases were clarified through footage from the cameras.