Turkish Foreign Ministry says right to assembly and freedom of speech are constitutionally guaranteed in Turkey, noting that terror-related infiltration from outside Bogazici University was found in protests against appointment of a new rector

Bogazici University Rector Prof Dr Melih Bulu answered journalists' questions on February 3, 2021.
Bogazici University Rector Prof Dr Melih Bulu answered journalists' questions on February 3, 2021. (AA)

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has said that it is not within anyone’s right to try to interfere in internal affairs in Turkey regarding the ongoing events at an Istanbul-based university. 

“We warn those circles not to use a language that provokes groups that resort to illegal means and encourages illegal acts,” the ministry said on foreign intervention to the protests at Bogazici University.

The protests erupted in Istanbul against the recent appointment of Bogazici University's new rector, Melih Bulu, with a group of students calling for his resignation.

Turkey responded after the US State Department’s criticism of the detentions of students, telling Washington not to interfere in its internal affairs.

The right to assembly and demonstration as well as freedom of speech are constitutionally guaranteed in Turkey, the ministry said, noting that terror-related infiltration from outside the university has been found in the protests.

It said the security forces carry out their duties based on the authority they are given by the law, and added that necessary and proportional measures are taken against the illegal acts that are beyond the right to demonstrate.

“Recent images of disproportionate violence by security forces to innocent and civilian citizens in the slightest objection against the government in many countries – which have been called "developed" democracies – are still in the memory,” it added.

The ministry also advised those who try to lecture Turkey on democracy and law while ignoring the country's legal fight against the situation first "to take a look at themselves."

“It is no one’s limit to attempt to interfere with Turkey’s internal affairs,” it warned.

Turkey shows its determination to protect fundamental rights and freedoms under the constitution with the reforms it carries out and the country is resolute to continue fighting terrorism, noted the ministry.

Turkey to protect youth from rom radicalisation, terrorism and vandalism

Meanwhile, Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altin shared a video on Twitter explaining the recent developments.

Altun said Turkey would take essential precautions to protect its young people and universities from radicalisation, terrorism and vandalism.

“Let us stop pretending that this is about freedom of expression and the right of peaceful protests,” Altun said, adding the university’s rector was appointed by the president in line with his constitutional mandate.

“A small and radicalised group” surrounded the rectorate building and attempted to invade it, he said.

“The police were consequently asked to step in and several people were detained for breaking the law. The criminal offenses include depriving an individual of their physical freedom and damaging public property.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 79 of those arrested are members of terrorist organisations including the DHKP/C and TKP-ML.

The demonstrations intensified when two Bogazici University students were remanded in custody by a Turkish court for displaying a painting allegedly offensive to Islamic values on university grounds.

“I do not accept these youngsters, who are members of terrorist groups, as sharing our country’s national and moral values,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayip Erdogan said in a video address on Wednesday to thousands of governing party members who are holding regional congresses.

“Are you students ... or are you terrorists who try to raid the office of the rector and occupy it?” he asked.

Turkish Interior Ministry spokesperson Ismail Catakli said on Thursday that 528 people had been detained in connection with the protests this week.

Two were remanded in custody and 498 were released, including 108 who were freed under judicial controls, Catakli said, while the fate of the other 28 remained unclear.

The Istanbul governor's office earlier said police were on the hunt for eight more suspects, of whom it said five had been caught.

READ MORE: Turkey denounces Biden for advocating interference in internal affairs

Source: AA