Erdoğan-appointed Boğaziçi rector says not stepping down amid protests

(Re-leads with statements from Bulu)

The new rector appointed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Istanbul's Bogaziçi University on Tuesday announced that he would not resign as over a hundred students gathered for a second day to protest his appointment.

Melih Bulu said that his appointment by presidential decree on Saturday to the country’s leading university met global standards, T24 news site reported, while noting Boğaziçi's students are “free to protest.''

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish police detained students protesting Bulu in raids on their homes, a student activist group reported.

The Student Collective said many of the students who took part in the demonstration at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul on Monday were taken into custody, including four of its own members.

“The police are believed to have a long list,” the Student Collective said.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry said most of those detained in the early morning hours were not students.

“Fifteen of the 17 people detained were not students,’’ Diken news site cited ministry spokesman İsmail Çataklı as saying.

Çataklı also said that slogans targeting the police, which included references to them as “murderers,’’ during Monday’s protest were “saddening,’’ adding that it was not possible to remain silent against acts.

Bulu on Tuesday dismissed calls for his resignation, saying time would "show how efficiently we work together.’’

Police clashed on Monday with students protesting Erdoğan’s appointment of Bulu as the university’s rector. Bulu was a candidate for Erdoğan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) in a 2015 general election.

Police used pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets on a group of students seeking to break through a security blockade established outside Boğaziçi’s southern campus on the European side of Istanbul. Police officers detained some of the students but released them later in the evening

Hundreds of students and academics have called for Bulu’s resignation, saying his appointment violated the university’s academic freedom and democratic values. Some analysts and academics have also accused Bulu of plagiarism in his masters and doctoral theses. He denies the charges.

On Tuesday, Boğaziçi University faculty turned their backs to the campus' rectorate building in protest of Bulu’s appointment as over a hundred students gathered for a second day of protests. Students chanted slogans that included "Melih Bulu is not our rector" and "Students and teachers are in solidarity."

One social media user on shared images of broken walls, accusing Istanbul police of doing so following the failure of a detainee to open the door of their residence on Tuesday.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, a political rival of Erdoğan, said he stood with the “rightful struggle'' of the students and academics of Boğaziçi in a Twitter post on Monday. He said there was a need to rid the country of partisanship and warned of a brain drain.

Turkish presidents have long had the authority to appoint a person as a university rector even if the candidate failed to win an internal election held by the university in question. A presidential decree Erdoğan issued following a failed military coup in 2016 removed the need for an election altogether.

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