Pro-gov’t Boğaziçi rector refuses to quit, expects protests to end in 6 months

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Melih Bulu, the new rector of İstanbul’s prestigious Boğaziçi University whose appointment by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked ongoing protests, stated that he has no plans to resign and that he expects the protests to end in six months.

“I never think about resigning,” Bulu told the Haber Türk daily. “I initially predicted this crisis would be over within six months, and it will be.”

Bulu’s comments were reported after Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), called on him in a tweet to resign and end “this ugly situation,” referring to the heavy police intervention in the protests and the detention of Boğaziçi students as well as others staging protests to support them.

Students and alumni as well as politicians and activists have protested the appointment of Bulu, a long-time member of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as rector of the university, arguing that it undercuts academic freedoms and democracy.

Nagehan Alçı, a columnist with the pro-government Habertürk news website, said in her column that Bulu recently told her he expects the protests against his appointment to end in six months.

“I initially predicted that this crisis would be over in six months in total, and that’s what will happen. Of course, things won’t always be this hard during those six months. Things will de-escalate [soon], and it will all be over in six months,” Bulu told Alçı.

Bulu also commented on a recent statement by Oğuzhan Aygören, an academic from Boğaziçi University and a founding member of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) who was recently appointed as an advisor to Bulu, that it was “impossible” for him to accept the position.

“He and I go way back. It was all good when I appointed him as my advisor at first, but then his party reacted strongly against the appointment, and he was forced to decline the position,” Bulu said.

Students don’t get a say in rector elections, interior minister says

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also commented on the ongoing protests against Bulu’s appointment during a TV program on Haber Global, saying,” University students didn’t get a say in rector elections before, and they certainly don’t have a voice in them now.”

“In previous elections, the rector was elected by the academics. This system, which I think was wrong, was changed by our president,” Soylu added.

Turkish presidents have had the authority to appoint persons who did not come in first in elections for rector, but a presidential decree issued during a post-coup state of emergency declared in 2016 removed the elections altogether.

Among those staging demonstrations protesting Bulu’s appointment and the detention of students attending the protests, 159 people were detained near the university on Monday, while 69 more were taken into custody in Ankara on Tuesday.

A total of 104 people protesting in the Kadıköy district of İstanbul were also detained by police on Tuesday, and 108 of those detained around the university a day earlier were released, with 10 of them placed under judicial supervision.

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