Over 1,400 issue joint statement in support of gov’t targeted ex-Boğaziçi rector

Over 1,400 Turkish citizens have signed a joint statement in support of Turkish academic and former rector of Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University, who Ankara has accused of involvement in the weeks-long protest on campus.

Professor Üstün Ergüder has long been on the side of democracy, freedom, equality, law and university autonomy, Bianet news site cited the statement as saying, calling on the government to respect the internationally-recognised former Boğaziçi rector.

Ergüder was targeted by İnterior Minister Süleyman Soylu over his criticism of the appointment of a government-linked rector to the country’s top university in January.

The assignment of Melih Bulu, a former senior local official of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party, sparked nationwide demonstrations by thousands of students and academics. The protests have been met by a heavy police response and the detention of hundreds of people.

Soylu in remarks he made on A Haber TV station earlier this week said Ergüder was provoking Boğaziçi students.

"Üstün Ergüder is at the centre of all this he is involved in it,’’ Soylu said, referring to the protests. "He likes to stir the pot. Shame on him.’’

Ergüder has gone on record to call Bulu’s appointment a "disturbing’’ move and "regression’’ from the achievements of the prestigious institution.

"We find it very unfortunate and inappropriate to make such accusations,’’ the statement issued on Tuesday said, while condemning "the search for malicious intentions and aims behind Ergüder's efforts for a better Turkey.’’