Universities release joint statements blaming students for ODTÜ clashes
DHA PhotoTwelve Turkish universities have released a joint statement accusing students at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) of “violence” last week during clashes with police amid the prime minister’s visit to their school.
The schools said the students were "trying to overshadow the historic success of Turkey in the field of space technology through violent acts."
The 12 universities called for "freedom of thought" to overcome "violent behavior." "The only way of protest for students should be with critical minds," the statement read. "Students should not be associated with rocks, sticks and Molotov cocktails."
"For society to progress further in every field, university students should be involved in education, research and social responsibilities," the statement said.
An anti-terror unit of the Ankara police launched raids at students’ houses in the following days on an order from the Ankara prosecutor authorized for terror-related crimes.
The prosecutor charged students as being members of terrorist organizations and committing crimes on behalf of a terrorist organization. Students are also accused of resisting security forces, provoking demonstrations against the police and violating the law on meetings and demonstrations.
Ten students detained after the protests were released after giving their testimonies.
Over 3,000 police officers were on hand to guard Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as he came to ODTÜ on Dec. 18 to witness the launch of Turkey’s first-ever domestically produce satellite, Göktürk-2. Several hundred students were staging a protest at his presence when they were attacked by the police, resulting in clashes and injuries. One student, Barış Barışık, was seriously injured after being struck by a police gas canister.
In the wake of the clashes, ODTÜ Rector Ahmet Acar criticized the police, saying they were responsible for the violence.
Erdoğan also took aim at ODTÜ’s professors on Dec. 22, saying that if the instructors were raising such “violent” students, then “Turkey has sunk.”
Marmara University, Istanbul Technical University, Yıldız Technical University, Galatasaray and Mimar Sinan were among the 12 schools to release the statement.