Istanbul, February 6
Turkey’s President has ordered the establishment of two new departments in the country’s most prestigious university, which has been rocked by weeks of protests.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision, published in the Official Gazette Saturday, says law and communications faculties are to be launched in Bogazici University.
Critics say the establishment of new departments will allow the presidentially-appointed rector to staff them with government loyalists. Student groups involved in the protests tweeted against the new decision, saying it was an “occupation” attempt against academic freedoms.
For weeks, students and faculty have led mostly peaceful protests against the new rector, Melih Bulu, who has links to Erdogan’s ruling party. They are calling for Bulu’s resignation and for the university to be allowed to elect its own president.
Police have detained hundreds of demonstrators at the university and in solidarity protests elsewhere, some taken away following raids of their homes. Most were later released.
Top government officials have said terrorist groups are provoking the protests, and Erdogan has called the protesting students “terrorists”.
Officials from the United States, the United Nations and the European Union have criticised Turkey’s handling of the protests, as well as a series of homophobic comments that were made by Erdogan and other officials while denouncing the demonstrations. AP