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Court releases remaining 33 detained in Boğaziçi protests in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district

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An İstanbul court has released under various supervisory measures the remaining 33 of 61 people who were detained in demonstrations staged in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district against the appointment of a pro-government figure as rector of the prestigious Boğaziçi University, local media reported early on Tuesday.

Of the 61 people who had been detained after the Kadıköy protests on Feb. 4, eight were previously released by the prosecutor’s office and 20 were referred to court to be released on probation while the remaining 33 were sent to court for arrest.

The court, however, ruled for the release of the 33 detainees under a variety of judicial supervision measures that include travel bans, the requirement to check in with the police on a regular basis and house arrest.

Among those on whom the court imposed a travel ban on was Özge Elvan, the sister of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old who subsequently died in 2014 after being hit in the head by a police tear gas canister during the Gezi Park protests of 2013.

More than 300 students have been detained and released, while eight have been arrested for taking part in ongoing Boğaziçi demonstrations across Turkey, which began in early January when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed Melih Bulu, an unsuccessful candidate from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for a seat in parliament, as the university’s rector.

Meanwhile, Bulu’s vice rectors, Professor Gürkan Kumbaroğlu from the department of industrial engineering and Professor Mehmet Naci İnci from the physics department, assumed their duties on Tuesday, some five weeks after Bulu’s appointment to the university.

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, however, declined the position in a statement last week.

Alumni and academics of Boğaziçi University as well as politicians and activists, in addition to students, have protested the appointment of Bulu as rector of the university, arguing that it undercut academic freedoms and democracy.

Among the demands of protestors are the release of detained and arrested protestors, the resignation of Bulu and the appointment of a rector from the university staff after the holding of an election.

The youth-driven Boğaziçi demonstrations have echoes of the Gezi Park protests of 2013, which erupted against plans to demolish a park in İstanbul’s Taksim neighborhood before spreading nationally and presenting a direct challenge to Erdoğan’s rule.

The president has been comparing the Boğaziçi protesters to “terrorists” as the movement threatens to grow into a serious challenge to his 18-year rule.

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