As Cambridge UCU we stand in solidarity with students and staff of Boğaziçi University, Istanbul.
On January 1, the President of Turkish Republic unilaterally appointed Melih Bulu, a member of his ruling party, as the rector of Boğaziçi University. Fellows of the University had neither been informed nor warned about the appointment. The ensuing protests by students, staff, and members of the public ever since have been met with repression, persecution, and has entrenched a culture war against sexual and ethnic minorities, student movements, and the political opposition. The crackdown on student organisers and an all-out media campaign against a very prominent member of staff have resulted in around 160 detentions in Boğaziçi alone, while a further 250 members of the public have been detained in solidarity marches in Istanbul, Ankara, and elsewhere.
Boğaziçi University is one of the foremost liberal arts colleges in the country. Dating back to 1863, it has strong scientific, intellectual and democratic traditions premised upon institutional autonomy and, since 1971, of free and public education. Boğaziçi University Senate (2012) officially states its main principles as institutional autonomy, democratic governance and academic freedom. It is part of a great many collaborative projects across the globe, and is the alma mater of some of our most cherished collaborators, colleagues, and students here in the University of Cambridge.
In following the example of Birmingham UCU, we urge our sister branches across UK Higher Education to pass this template motion. We urge you to sign this letter in support of student protesters. We ask members of our branch, and prominent members of our academic community to act, in their institutional capacity, to make public statements of support for Boğaziçi staff and students, and raise their concerns with Boğaziçi University Executive Board – using this template – and/or members of the Turkish Council of Higher Education – using this one.