Human RightsMiddle EastTurkey

Turkish police arrest 17 in Istanbul after student protests at high ranking university

Police in Turkey have arrested 17 individuals in early morning raids a day after a student protest rally against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appointment of a chancellor to a top university in Istanbul.

Police officers carried out the pre-dawn raids in 13 districts in Istanbul on Tuesday, a day after hundreds of people took part in a demonstration outside the Bogazici University campus.

Other operations took 11 people into custody, according to a police statement.

Police accused the 28 individuals of violating a law on demonstrations and protest rallies, and “resisting an officer on duty.”

An official at the Istanbul police headquarters said the arrested individuals were not students but members of “extremely marginal leftist” groups who supported the protests.

At least 1,000 people took part in the Monday rally in response to a January 1 decree by Erdogan appointing Melih Bulu as the new chancellor to the public institution.

Bulu had run as a political candidate in the 2015 election for Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party.

The appointment marks the second time Erdogan has named a university trustee, after a decision in November 2016 also generated angry reactions and provoked tensions. Prior to July 2016, university trustees were appointed through elections.

Critics, meanwhile, insist that the appointment is another instance of political interference in Turkey’s higher education sector by Erdogan, who assumed the power to appoint college trustees after surviving a failed coup in 2016.

The university was known as Robert College when it was established in 1863. It was handed to Turkey in 1971 and was renamed after the campus location by the Bosphorus River, “Bogazici” in Turkish.

Despite the Tuesday arrests, students are planning more protest rallies on Wednesday.

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