Price of Participating in Boğaziçi Protest: Ten student assistants were dismissed from METU

The protests sparked by the appointment of Melih Bulu to the Rectorate of Boğaziçi University continues across various universities. Students and members of staff have organized protests in various cities and universities across Turkey. Some of the largest solidarity protests have been held at  Middle Eastern Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Istanbul University and Istanbul Technical University.

On January 6, many students and members of the teaching staff joined together to protest in front of the METU Rectorate building. Two student assistants from METU, Hakan Kıyak and Zekiye Elif Yıldız, were dismissed from their jobs due to their participation in the protest.  Despite specifying Yıldız and Kıyak’s participation in the protests as the grounds for expulsion, the university authorities later denied that this was the reason. 

Hakan Kıyak spoke to Okan Yücel from Medyascope and stated: “Some of our friends were detained during their protest in [the Ankara neighborhoods of] Kızılay and Yüzüncü Yıl on January 20. Others wanted to show solidarity by occupying the space in front of the rectorate building. We joined them during our lunch break and had a chat with them. Around 3 or 4 o’clock, we were both summoned and a clerk told us we were dismissed. We asked for the reason and they said ‘We got a call from the Rectorate, you joined the protest today so you are not wanted here anymore’. This was the first answer we received from them but they later repeatedly denied it.”

Kıyak told the reporter about the eight people who were later dismissed: “First I and my colleague got dismissed on January 12. Two days later, eight more people got dismissed. These eight people had nothing to do with the protest. They had not received such warning.”

Kıyak suggested that the true reason for his dismissal is omitted: “In order to come up with an excuse for our dismissal they told us the department’s budget was insufficient. Yet only a week ago, someone high up told us they needed more staff. They said that new people were going to be hired. My friend and I helped them hire five new people.”

Sevval Algeyik is among the 8 members of staff dismissed two days after the protests: “I was notified of the dismissal on January 14. I had joined the first Boğaziçi protest but not the second one which led to others’ (Kıyak and Yıldız) dismissal. First they expelled the two people (Kıyak and Yıldız). I believe they dismissed us to come up with a guise for their dismissal. Among those of us who got dismissed later were some people who had not even heard of the protest.”