Turkey arrests another student in ongoing Boğaziçi protests, bringing total to 11

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Hasan Koral Hacıbeyoğlu, a student from Turkey’s İstanbul Bilgi University, has been arrested by a court for participating in demonstrations against the appointment of a pro-government figure as rector of the prestigious Boğaziçi University, local media reported on Wednesday.

Hacıbeyoğlu was arrested on charges of “preventing the discharge of public duty” following his second detention, which took place after he spent six days in custody on similar charges and was then released under judicial supervision.

With the arrest of Hacıbeyoğlu, the total number of students arrested in Turkey for taking part in protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of Melih Bulu, an unsuccessful candidate from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for a seat in parliament, has reached 11.

The protests demanding the resignation of Bulu and the appointment of a rector from the university staff after the holding of an election have been going on for over a month.

More than 500 protestors, the majority of them university students, have been detained for taking part in the Boğaziçi demonstrations, ongoing in more than 30 provinces across Turkey since early January.

Alumni and academics of Boğaziçi University as well as politicians and activists, in addition to students, have protested the appointment of Bulu — who denies claims of plagiarizing his doctoral thesis — as rector of the university, arguing that it undercut academic freedoms and democracy.

President Erdoğan, who was ignoring the protests at first, this month started comparing the protestors to “terrorists” and blaming the LGBT movement for protests against Bulu’s appointment.

The 66-year-old leader has also responded to the demonstrations by flooding the streets with police, who have fired rubber bullets and tear gas during detentions carried out mostly in İstanbul and in smaller solidarity rallies in big cities such as Ankara and İzmir.

The youth-driven movement, which threatens to pose a worrisome challenge to Erdoğan’s 18-year rule, has ominous echoes of the Gezi Park protests of 2013 that began in defense of an İstanbul park before morphing into a national movement.

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