U.S. concerned with Ankara’s statements on Boğaziçi University, monitoring demos

The United States government is concerned over statements from senior Turkish officials on the arrest of four students following peaceful protests at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University, a State Department spokesperson told Ahval in a statement. 

The students and faculty members of the Boğaziçi have been protesting for weeks the appointment of a government-linked rector by presidential decree on Jan.1.

On Saturday, four students were detained  over artwork that reportedly depicted LGBT rainbow symbols alongside an image of the Islamic holy site of the Kaaba.

A number of top Turkish officials, including Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu attacked the LGBTI+ community following the detentions.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also joined to attack on LGBT students, calling them  "vandalisers,’’who would not carry the country forward.

''The United States stands up for and defends the rights of LGBTQI+ people. The United States firmly opposes abuses against LGBTQI+ persons and urges governments to repeal laws that criminalize individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity,’’ the U.S. State Department spokesperson said.

"We have been monitoring the students’ peaceful demonstrations against the appointment of a new rector at Boğaziçi University and we will continue to do so," the statement, the first from the State Department over events at Boğaziçi University, said.

Protests at Turkey’s most prestigious university continued on Monday as police prevented a group from releasing a statement on Hisarüstü campus, BBC Turkish reported.

According to Parliamentarian Omer Gergerlioglu, who talked to Ahval in front of the University, said, "Boğaziçi University South Gate is cordoned off by the Turkish police, over 100 students detained"  and "students are not allowed to leave the South Campus." 

Footage shared on social media showed police holding snipers on the rooftop of buildings in the South Campus of Boğaziçi.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.