Turkey: We stand with “Boğaziçi Solidarity”

PEN Norway stands with the students and call all academic and student organizations throughout the world to stand together with “Boğaziçi Solidarity”.

Student demonstrations at the Boğaziçi Unicersity. Photo: Zeynep Kuray

Read the full statement in English or Turkish.

PEN Norway and Civic Space Studies Association ask for international awareness on the state violence and oppressive practices the students are facing at Boğaziçi University.

The Turkish government has been targeting higher education as a democratic space for free expression and the right to assembly for years, increasingly since 2016. Boğaziçi University was one of the few institutions that managed to preserve its democratic environment in this atmosphere.

However, on January 1st, 2021; the President of Turkey appointed Melih Bulu as the new rector of the university. It is the first time since the military regime in the 1980s that a rector is appointed without having any connections to the university. While not having any connections to the university, the new trustee rector has organic ties to the ruling party: he was a parliamentary candidate of the party during the 2015 elections. Given the facts, this is an obvious display of overreaching executive power that targets yet another democratic institution and core educational values.

For ten days, students and staff have been protesting against this attack on academic freedom.

We stand with the protesters, and ask the international community to join us in calling for:

  • The detained protesters should be immediately released.
  • All warrants should be lifted, and the practice of detentions should cease against protesters.
  • All investigations concerning the protests should be dropped.
  • The protesters must be allowed to practice their constitutional rights to assembly and association in peace along with their right to protest.
  • All violent offences against protesters should be investigated and prosecuted.
  • Universities are core to democratic values and freedom of expression: All oppressive practices against universities should be ceased.

Read the statement in full:

This is a joint statement by PEN Norway and Civic Space Studies Association.