NUS in solidarity with Bogazici University

NUS in solidarity with Bogazici University

BRITAIN’S National Union of Students (NUS) sent a message of solidarity to their counterparts at Istanbul’s Bogazici University today and joined global calls for the release of those still in custody.

NUS National President Larissa Kennedy said the student body, which represents some 600 affiliated further and higher education institutions across the country, has a proud track record of international solidarity.

”NUS UK has from its outset been an internationally engaged national union that seeks to organise for social justice in solidarity with other students across the world,” she said.

British students have reacted angrily to the heavy-handed response from the Turkish state which has seen at least 159 students detained and many placed under house arrest as the government seeks to quell dissent.

Protests at the elite Istanbul university erupted after the government imposed a pro-Erdogan rector, Melih Bulu, a businessman who had previously stood as a candidate for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

His appointment on January 1 was the first from outside the university community since the 1980 coup. The demonstrations have continued to grow, galvanising widespread support from trade unions, academics and political parties inside Turkey.

Students have warned that Erdogan is determined to silence them as he fears the demonstrations becoming a “new Gezi” – the 2013 protests that garnered international support and nearly brought down the government.

Yet instead of listening to the legitimate concerns raised over the erosion of academic freedom and freedom of expression, the government has responded with a brutality characteristic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Over the past few days, police have attacked solidarity protests in towns and cities across the country including Izmir and the Turkish capital Ankara, where a young woman was beaten unconscious.

Snipers have been positioned on buildings with their sights trained on peaceful protesters as they gathered at the gates of the Istanbul university.

Female protesters have reported being strip-searched and sexually assaulted by police officials, a practice that has become used more frequently and condemned in parliament by the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The NUS was appalled at the homophobic remarks made by both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu after LGBT activists displayed artwork in a campus protest that depicted rainbow symbols alongside an image of the Kaaba, the building at the centre of the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Islam’s most sacred site.

While homosexuality is not illegal, rainbow colours associated with the LGBT community are rated 18-plus in Turkey “to protect children.”

Twitter limited access to a tweet by Mr Soylu yesterday  which referred to the protesting students as “LGBT perverts.

 

Ms Kennedy said: “State violence and police brutality are global injustices and our rage and solidarity are with the LGBTQ+ students from Istanbul’s Bogazici University who are fighting for liberation at this time”


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