Turkish President takes action at protest-rocked university

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s president ordered the establishment of two new departments in the country’s most prestigious university, which has been rocked by weeks of protests.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision, published in the Official Gazette yesterday, said law and communications faculties are to be launched in Bogazici University.

Critics said the establishment of new departments would allow the presidentially appointed rector to staff them with government loyalists. Student groups involved in the protests tweeted against the new decision, saying it was an “occupation” attempt against academic freedoms.

For weeks, students and faculty led mostly peaceful protests against the new rector Melih Bulu who has links to Erdogan’s ruling party. They are calling for Bulu’s resignation and for the university to be allowed to elect its own president.

Police detained hundreds of demonstrators at the university and in solidarity protests elsewhere, some taken away following raids of their homes. Most were later released.

Top government officials said terrorist groups are provoking the protests, and Erdogan called the protesting students terrorists.

Officials from the United States, the United Nations and the European Union criticised Turkey’s handling of the protests.

Riot police officers detain a student during a protest in Ankara, Turkey. PHOTO: AP