Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on July 9 called on the rector of Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) to hear out the students protesting the cutting down of trees for the construction of a dormitory on campus.
“Universities are the most important institutions that develop a country. Establishing a university is taking society to a bright future. ODTÜ is the apple of our eyes. An understanding approach is needed towards [the students]. We need to hear their demands,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in his speech at the CHP’s parliamentary group meeting.
“The students want a dormitory. But they object that a [third party] will undertake the construction. They also object to the trees being cut down for the project,” he said.
“These children are our future. They are the future’s architects, engineers and academics. I am calling on Mr. Rector to hear your students out. They are bright people who question the world better than you and I do. They are our children,” he said.
“Universities are institutions producing knowledge, not places for violence. The youth are excited, they can react more fervently. Their needs and demands need to be taken into consideration. They need to be treated with respect,” he added.
ODTÜ students have been protesting the university management’s protocol with a state institution, which will lead to the cutting down of at least 1,207 poplar trees.
Many students have been protesting the construction, pitching tents in the green area for over 55 days. But on July 8, police forces intervened, using tear gas against the students and cutting down the trees.
CHP deputies, however, mounted pressure on authorities, claiming the planned construction lacked many official permissions, with calls to halt the works.
Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş stepped in to halt the dispute, saying he met with the rector and that he offered the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality to build the dorm in line with the needs and demands of the students.
Hurriyet Daily News