Turkish police detained students protesting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of a rector to the country’s top university in raids on their homes early on Tuesday, 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.
Police clashed on Monday with students protesting Erdoğan’s appointment of Melih Bulu as the university’s rector. Bulu was a candidate for Erdoğan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) in a 2015 general election.
Hundreds of students and academics have called for Bulu’s resignation, saying his appointment violated the university’s academic freedom and democratic values.
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.
On Monday, police used pepper spray and tear gas 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.
Some analysts and academics have also accused Bulu of plagiarism in his masters and doctoral theses. He denies the charges.