Boğaziçi Resistance started on January 4, 2021, when Melih Bulu- an old candidate for nomination of parliament member from the Justice and Development Party appointed as trustee rector. It began with a considerable participation which resulted from the political background of the appointed trustee. However, what we are pursuing is not just a movement against someone in person who is not a member of Boğaziçi but it was a struggle we started with the demand for a free, autonomous and democratic university. During that period, several students were subjected to different right violations. Interventions to suppress the student movement were quite numerous. We were often subjected to violence by the police as well as abuse by jurisdiction, sometimes scapegoated name by name by the progovernment media, subjected to disciplinary proceedings within the university and also funding cuts. In fact, we can briefly say that all those interventions directly or indirectly resulted in the preclusion of our right to education and actually were made on that purpose. Boğaziçi Resistance is a long-running struggle and its essential subject is students. The government intentionally makes practices which will interrupt the educational life of students in order to break the resistance.
Striving to continue education was a significant struggle, under conditions of segregation
Those practices of the government also interrupted my life like many other students. On the grounds that I participated in a protest which was staged before the rectorate building on October 4, 2021, I was scapegoated by the president of republic Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on October 5. A few hours later than Erdoğan’s speech, I was detained. On October 6, I was arrested. My one semester has passed in prison. The seizure of my right to education was just one aspect of the punishment but I believe that to evaluate the process I went through in that context is essential: because while being deprived of your freedom and accused of being a terrorist rather than being a student by those in power, striving to continue education was a significant struggle, under conditions of segregation.
Prisons are places in which innumerable right violations occur… If you are imprisoned, you occasionally have to strive for your basic needs. In my relatively short imprisonment period, my visitation right was prevented twice. To read newspapers, I tried hard for two months. Moreover, there was no drinking water in our ward. In addition to those, although your right to education is guaranteed by the constitutional law and it is legally possible to carry out one’s high education in prisons, you experience several physical difficulties and right violations in a place where you oppose practices violating human dignity like a stand-up count.
In prisons as well as in campuses, attacks on the right to education continued
The date of my imprisonment coincided with the day courses began and from the first day of my imprisonment, we made great efforts for my access to the course material together with my lawyers and my friends outside. Despite that, I couldn’t get any course material for nearly a month. When my lawyers or my friends who came to visit me left some course material, those were being examined by the commission of education within the prison and sometimes not being delivered to me for quite a long time. Independently of the prison procedures and intentional preventions, physical conditions also make following the academic schedule impossible for me. For the 51 days of our imprisonment which lasted for 3 months, I didn’t have even a desk. I was writing and reading on the ground- over the floor tiles in a single cell. In that process, how long my imprisonment would take was indefinite but we predicted that we would be released in a few months considering the duration of imprisonment of our friends who were imprisoned during the resistance. Proceeding synchronically with the academic schedule was of great importance to continue my education after being released. However, since my final schedule was approaching, I was obliged to suspend my studies.
After being released, attacks on my right to education continued. I underwent an intramural disciplinary proceeding and we had debarment for one month together with my friend- the other imprisoned student, by the appointed trustee rector Naci İnci’s decision. While we were imprisoned, our friends who stood the same trial already had debarment for one week. There was also a psychological aspect which affected the continuation of my studies. When I returned to the university, attending courses which took place especially indoors was psychologically compelling. Moreover, the oppressive atmosphere in the university was incredibly intensified, disciplinary proceedings were taken against students day after day and given that the university administration insisted on moral zealotry, security guards were regularly harassing students. The campus which was previously a safe living space for students, now transformed to a traumatic space where people always remained alert.
Academic life has been damaged
As resisting students, during the Boğaziçi Resistance, we constantly confronted the government’s apparatus of oppression and were subjected to several right violations. The thing which we mostly suffered as individuals might be our academic life. I believe that there is a significant point which we should consider while evaluating what we have experienced: At students’ side of the resistance, we not only maintained a struggle to build up an order of competence or the old order again but also acted for a future in which we will have a say in the university administration. We didn’t just foresee that an appointment made with the impetus of political views will result in a decline in the quality of education and react to it, we also struggled demanding autonomy. What we defended was not only our right to qualified education. Our will was disregarded by a government which treats the young as its subjects and that is what we are struggling with. The right violations we experienced and the injustice we confronted are not independent from the audacity we displayed.