Top Turkish writers side with students in university protests

147 leading Turkish writers expressed their support for students protesting against the appointment of a government-linked rector to Turkey’s Boğaziçi University.

Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk and prominent writers Oya Baydar, Elif Şafak, Zülfü Livaneli, Murathan Mungan and Haydar Ergülen were among those signing a petition backing the students.

“We will not bow to oppression and persecution,” the writers said in a joint statement, Bianet reported on Monday.

Thousands of students and academics have been demonstrating since early January against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of Melih Bulu, a former senior official of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as the rector of Boğaziçi, the country’s top academic institution with strong secular and liberal roots.

Police have apprehended hundreds of students in cities including Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Adana. Nearly all of them have been freed. Some of the detainees claimed they were mistreated or tortured while in custody and lawyers representing the students have filed several criminal complaints against the police.

“The hate speech used by the highest public authorities, labeling the students as terrorists, unlawful detentions and police violence shows that our country has moved far away from being a constitutional state of law,” the writers said in the joint statement.