Students at İstanbul’s Boğaziçi University who have been protesting the appointment of a government loyalist as the school’s rector said on the 100th day of the protests on Tuesday that their resistance would continue until the rector and his team are gone.
April 13 marked the 100th day of the protests that began on Jan. 4 shortly after Melih Bulu, a former unsuccessful parliamentary candidate from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was appointed as university rector by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Students, academics and alumni as well as politicians and activists have protested the appointment of Bulu, arguing that it is a part of Erdoğan’s broader effort to centralize control over universities and that it undercuts academic freedoms and democracy.
The protesting students released a statement to mark the 100th day of their resistance on Tuesday, saying that they, along with academics and alumni, would continue the protests until Bulu is gone and a rector is appointed to the university through a democratic election.
“Our resistance will continue until trustee Melih Bulu and his team, who seek to intimidate the students with detentions and unlawful investigations just because they want democratic elections for rector, are gone,” the students said in their statement.
The Boğaziçi protests have not been limited to the university but spread all across the country, leading to the detention of hundreds of students and activists who joined the protests. The protests have echoes of the 2013 Gezi Park protests that erupted against plans to demolish a park in İstanbul’s Taksim neighborhood before spreading nationally and presenting a direct challenge to Erdoğan’s rule.
Bulu, who was a founding member of the ruling AKP’s Sarıyer district branch in İstanbul and worked as deputy chairman of the AKP’s İstanbul provincial chapter, has so far refused to step down.