02/02/2021 | Writer: Yıldız Tar
The candidate status of Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club was canceled. The decision was announced by the Presidency's Head of Communications.
The smear campaigns over a collage work from an exhibition at the Boğaziçi University has evolved into a full-fledged hate campaign with calls for violence against LGBTI+'s and "banning LGBTI+ associations".
Two of the Boğaziçi students targeted by the Minister of Interior, the Governorate of Istanbul, the President of Religious Affairs Administration and the Presidential Spokesperson were arrested.
Police attacked the protests against arrests and LGBTI+ phobia. More than a hundred students were detained in the attacks that continued throughout the day.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that the "trustee Rector" Melih Bulu, who caused the protests, shut off the Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club. Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun shared the decision, which was not notified to club members, on social media.
According to the decision signed by Melih Bulu, the candidate status of Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club, which has been kept as a candidate club for a long time, has been canceled. The reason for this was the exhibition, which was not organized by the club and included works that came through an open call for artworks. In the directive, the exhibition was presented as if it was organized by the club.
Also, in their joint statement with Boğaziçi University Women's Studies Club, Boğaziçi LGBTI+ stated that the exhibition was held on the initiative of BOUN Exhibition Group, and even though the demonstrations were peaceful and participated by all the constituents of the Boğaziçi, the LGBTI+'s and Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club are being targeted specifically.
The process that started by the Boğaziçi Islamic Studies Club (BİSAK) with a smear campaign over a collage from an exhibition, turned into an intense hate campaign with increasing hate speech and slanders against LGBTI+'s.
The Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu said, "4 LGBT perverts were detained!" and committed hate speech against LGBTI+'s. The Governorate of Istanbul stated that the Boğaziçi University Fine Arts Club and Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club were searched too. The Governorate included having the "LGBTI flag" in the Boğaziçi University LGBTI + Studies Club to the report as "LGBTI flags and various posters and banners used in the protests were seized". Even though they did not constitute evidence of any crime, the LGBTI+ flags are taken from the club room by the police.
"We will take legal action against those who commit this disrespect," said Ali Erbaş, President of Religious Affairs Administration, on Twitter.
The rectorate of Boğaziçi University also launched an administrative investigation. In the statement made by the university, it was reported that an administrative investigation was initiated by the Rectorate regarding the said Kaaba image. Melih Bulu, the appointed rector of Boğaziçi University, said the following on his social media account:
“Attacking the holy symbols of Islam by a group of presumptuous people is by no means acceptable. This has no place in Boğaziçi values. A comprehensive investigation has been launched against those responsible for this incident.”
Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, said, “It is the order of God Almighty; 'keep my house clean from all dirt.' The law cannot tolerate the disrespect against our sacred Kaaba by these people whose hearts are rusted with hatred. An investigation was initiated by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office against this infamous act and a detention order is issued for the perpetrators”.
The statement of Presidency's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, which he called the protesters as "mad minority", is as follows:
“The main goal of the perverted way of thinking and life that the mad minority is trying to normalize under the pretext of freedom, equality, and human rights is to subvert our generations. Their only motivation is to desecrate our sacred ones. Images in Boğaziçi University are proof of this.
“We will never allow those who try to propagate immorality, insulting the saints, hatred, and terror as freedom. This mad minority with Blind eyes and sealed hearts, has also been condemned in the legitimate conscience of our nation. If we don't prevent your vile actions, then let us be doomed!"
The main opposition party CHP’s Spokesperson Faik Öztrak also targeted the students. Faik Öztrak, the Spokesperson and Vice-Chair of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), also shared a message on Twitter, which also sparked reactions:
"We cannot accept any attack or humiliation targeting the sacred values of humanity. We vehemently condemn this open provocation. We expect the seen and unseen responsible parties to be identified as soon as possible."
Campaigns involving intense hate speech and discrimination have started on Twitter via the tags #BoğazicindelgbtRezaleti (The LGBT Scandal at Boğaziçi) and #KabeKutsalimizdir (Kaaba is Our Sacred). Both tags took place in Turkey’s TT list of Twitter for almost a day.
Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın was among those who posted on social media with the tag #KabeKutsalimizdir:
"Disrespect to our holy Kaaba is neither freedom of expression nor right to demonstrate.
“This heresy will receive the punishment it deserves both before the law and in the righteous conscience.
“Your vile intentions and abusive actions are negligent, deceitful, and frustrating.
In this storm of hate speech, Mil-Diyanet Sen (Union of Religious Affairs Administration Workers) called for a campaign against the LGBTI+'s freedom of expression and organization by saying "We are giving a petition to the Ministry of Interior for the Closure of LGBT Associations". LGBTI + associations were targeted with the image circulating on social media with the signature of Mil-Diyanet Sen.
Two students were arrested, two students were released on condition of judicial control, and one student was released. Two students were arrested on the allegation of "inciting the public to hatred and enmity or humiliation", while the justification of the investigation was the allegation of "public humiliation of the religious values adopted by a section of the population".
A campaign against smear campaigns and hate speech started on Twitter with the hashtag #LGBTİHaklarıİnsanHaklarıdır (LGBTI Rights are Human Rights). Within the scope of the campaign that quickly entered the TT list, many politicians, political parties, artists, trade unions, professional associations and non-governmental organizations also sent tweets of solidarity.
The police attacked the press statement that Boğaziçi Solidarity wanted to make at the south gate of the university "against the trustees, LGBTI+ phobia, student arrests, all anti-democratic practices".
The police blocked the students from gathering and set up a barricade in front of the university gate. Hisarüstü, where the university is located, was blockaded. Armed policemen took positions in the vicinity of the buildings around the school. Police did not allow the students at Boğaziçi University to leave the campus.
After the school was blockaded and the Boğaziçi University students were prevented from going outside by the police, the students gathered around the Rectorate building and shouted "Resign". Students requested a meeting with Melih Bulu. Security personnel inside the campus attacked the students. 159 students were detained in the attacks that continued throughout the day.
A police officer shouting “You insolent, look down” while the students were being detained drew reactions on social media. On Twitter Turkey, hashtags #AşağıBakmayacağız (We will not look down) and #BoğaziçiAblukada (Boğaziçi under siege) entered the TT list.
Translation: Yiğit E. Korkmaz
Tags: human rights, education