Amid the ongoing protests against the appointment of Prof. Melih Bulu as a new rector to Boğaziçi University by President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a new Presidential decree has been published in the Official Gazette, foreseeing the establishment of Law and Communication faculties at the university.
While the appointed rector has welcomed the news on his social media account, the Boğaziçi Solidarity platform, on behalf of the Boğaziçi University students protesting the appointment of Melih Bulu, has addressed an open letter to the 12th President of Turkey on social media.
Under the hashtags #YüreğimizYetiyor (We have the guts), referring to a statement by Erdoğan, and #FakülteyiSarayaKur (Establish the faculty at the palace), students have addressed the following letter:
Reasons underlying the protests
"Previously, we responded to Melih Bulu with the poem ’Satirical Attempts on a Provocateur.’ It is pleasing to see that you have acknowledged yourself to be the person responsible, and responded accordingly.
"Up until today, you have demanded secret meetings with us via the Turkey Youth and Education Service Foundation (TÜRGEV).
"Now, you are trying to start an argument against us through the media. We do not like go-betweens, we prefer speaking outright and explicitly to all. We hope that you will proceed accordingly.
"First, let us remind you of our demands and of the reasons underlying our protests:
"You appointed a trustee rector to our university with utter disregard for the students and faculty. Is what you did legal? Yes, as you like to mention every chance you get, but it is not legitimate. This appointment makes anyone who has even the tiniest sense of justice revolt with indignation.
"To top it off, you open faculties and appoint deans with an overnight presidential order on a Friday night, in order to intimidate the whole institution with all its students, teachers and laborers.
"Your attempts to pack our university with your own political militants is the symptom of the political crisis that you have fallen into.
"Victims of your crisis grow in number with every passing day!
"We use our constitutional rights to make people from all segments of society aware of the injustices we are subjected to.
"These are our demands:
All our friends who have been arrested or detained in this period must be released immediately!
All campaigns to defame and disenfranchise LGBTI+s and all other targeted groups must end!
All government-appointed trustees, starting with Melih Bulu, who instigated all these arrests, detentions, scapegoating campaigns, and threats, must resign!
In universities, democratic rectorate elections must be held with the participation of all constituents of the university!
’Don’t mistake us for those who obey you’
"You uttered a sentence starting with ’If they have the guts...’ in your statement. Is it a constitutional right to call for the resignation of the president? YES! Since when is the use of a constitutional right a matter of courage?
"Do not mistake us for those who obey you unconditionally. You are not a sultan, and we are not your subjects.
"But since you mentioned courage, we shall also respond to that briefly.
"We have no immunities! You, however, are the one who has been storming around, hiding behind your legal and political immunity for the last 19 years.
"The Interior Minister is spreading lies to play on religious sensitivities. We say that we will not practice self-censorship.
"You call LGBTI+s deviants, we state that LGBTI+ rights are human rights.
"Members of your party kicked miners in Soma. We actively stood in solidarity with the mine workers, and we will continue to do so.
"You unlawfully keep the Co-Chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) imprisoned, alongside journalists and union members.
"We declare that we stand united with those who fearlessly speak the truth, and we are against all government-appointed trustees.
"You make crowds boo Berkin Elvan’s mother in rallies. We declare that we stand with Berkin Elvan.
"You target and attack Ayşe Buğra, without even mentioning her name, saying ’Osman Kavala ’s wife is among these provocateurs’.
“In a vulgar manner, you restate the sexist fallacy that the only significant feature of a woman is her husband. We state that ’Ayşe Buğra is a dignified professor and an esteemed academic’. We say that ’We will take any charge against her as a charge against us’.
”(We know very well that you will file dozens of lawsuits against this letter on the grounds that it praises crime and criminals or insulting the president, but we also know that we will never give up on speaking the truth!)
’Why would we call on you to resign?’
"Since you lack the power necessary to keep the trustee-rector you have appointed in the office, you resort to petty tricks like opening new faculties and appointing sham personnel, which does not appear to be an act of courage. That is why we disregard your words about courage.
"We are aware that Bogaziçi University is not Turkey’s most significant institution, nor is the appointment of Melih Bulu Turkey’s most significant problem.
"Regarding the demand for your resignation, we would not consider calling for your resignation based on this issue. YOU ASK WHY?
"If you were ever going to resign,
"You would have resigned when Brant Dink was slaughtered!
"You would have resigned when 34 Kurds were killed in the Roboski massacre. You would have resigned when 301 miners were murdered in Soma! You would have resigned after the Çorlu train derailment!
"You would have resigned in the face of the livelihood problems of thousands of citizens, who were left unemployed or could not find a job, and especially in face of the decree-law (KHK) purgees!
"You would have assumed responsibility for the economic policies which condemned the people to poverty, instead of sacrificing your son-in-law.
"The examples are plenty, but you have never resigned.
"You preferred to present yourself as naively deceived, instead of, in your own words, ’having the guts’. So now why would we call on you to resign?
"As long as Melih Bulu sits on that seat, we will continue our protest by strengthening our struggle, with all those who join the resistance. Whether or not you do what must be done is your own business. We stand with those who are robbed of their democratic rights and freedoms.
“With hopes that you realize that you cannot silence the oppressed of these lands by shouting and threatening from arenas and podiums.”
Prof. Melih Bulu has been appointed as the President of Boğaziçi University in a Presidential Decree issued on January 1. The appointment of Bulu has sparked harsh criticisms among both the students and academics of the university as well as in the academic community.
Appointed to Boğaziçi, one of the most prestigious universities in Turkey, from outside its community, Bulu was a candidate for nomination to run in the Parliamentary elections in 2015 for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The students and several students’ clubs of the university have been campaigning on social media under the hashtag #kayyımrektöristemiyoruz (We don’t want a trustee university president).
The call of the students was also supported by the faculty members of the university, who released a joint statement on January 3.
“An academic outside Bogazici University community was appointed as rector (university president), which is a practice introduced for the first time after the 1980s military tutelage,” read their statement.
Amid harsh criticisms of students and faculty members, Prof. Bulu has shared a message on his Twitter account, welcoming his appointment to the position, saying, “We are all in the same boat.”
The students protested the appointment of Bulu in front of the South Campus of the university in İstanbul on January 4. However, the police intervened into the protest with pepper gas and plastic bullets.
Next day, it was reported that there were detention warrants against 28 people for “violating the law on meetings and demonstrations” and “resisting the officer on duty.” Later in the day, 22 of them were detained.
40 people in total were detained over the protests. All of the detained were released on January 7 and 8, 2021.
The protests of students and faculty members at the South Campus of Boğaziçi University have been going on since January 4.
On February 1, police stormed the South Campus and intervened into the students’ protests. Earlier in the day, the students gathered in front of the campus for the protest. Police hindered the protest while also preventing the students inside the South Campus from joining their friends outside.
With the 51 students taken into custody inside the campus in the evening, the number of detained increased to 159. In a statement released by the İstanbul Governor’s Office in the early morning hours on February 2, it was announced that 98 students were released from detention.
On February 2, Boğaziçi University students gathered in Kadıköy Rıhtım for another protest, which was attacked by the police with plastic bullets and tear gas. 134 people were taken into custody by the police. Two of the protesters were arrested by the court afterwards.
About Melih Bulu
Prof. Melih Bulu was appointed as the President of Haliç University on January 17, 2020. In office in this foundation university for less than a year, he has been appointed as the President of Boğaziçi University.
He was a Dean and University President at the İstinye University from 2016 to 2019. Between the years of 2010 and 2016, he was the Head of the Business Management Department of İstanbul Şehir University’s Business Management and Management Science Faculty.
He was the General Coordinator of International Competitiveness Research Institute (URAK), an NGO working on economic competitiveness of cities and countries, from the year 2017 to 2019. Since 2011, he has been the Executive Board member of the İstanbul Electric-Electronic Machinery and Informatics Exporters R&D Market.
In 2002, he founded the Sarıyer District Organization of the ruling AKP in İstanbul. In 2015, he was a candidate for nomination to run in the Parliamentary elections from the AKP in the first election district in İstanbul.
He studied Industrial Engineering at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara in 1992. He did his MBA and PhD at Boğaziçi University’s Department of Management.