The ASUC External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP, condemned the actions taken by the Turkish government against the student body of Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.
In a letter posted to Twitter on Friday, ASUC EAVP Riya Master spoke on behalf of her office in support of the student-led movement at Boğaziçi University and called for the release of two Turkish students currently in custody for partaking in the movement.
“Student resistance and the freedom to dissent is a human right that ought to be granted by participation in all democratic governments,” Master said in the statement. “In Turkey, students have been detained and arrested after rightfully protesting two government-appointed rectors Bulu and İnci, who are not trusted by the school.”
Ten students were arrested in October for protesting the university head, a government-appointed university rector. Two of these students are still being held and denied access to their school books and medicine, the statement alleged.
“All of this has come on the heels of what Turkish students and the international community have called a ‘government takeover’ of institutions of higher education, including Boğaziçi University,” the statement reads. “The appointment of government receptors is an attack on academic, sexual, gender, and religious freedom in higher education.”
Master’s office put out the statement in response to student leaders of the movement, who reached out to the ASUC requesting support. Despite being across the world, they did so because UC Berkeley is known internationally for being home to the Free Speech Movement — a famous example of student resistance succeeding, said Bailey Henderson, EAVP federal government relations director.
One graphic created by the Boğaziçi University movement depicts a student at a recent protest standing on top of a car along with a 1964 photo of Berkeley student Mario Savio doing the same thing in a famous student demonstration on campus, said Master.
“Hopefully they can get some of the concessions they’re asking for, and that should and does matter to us,” Master said.
She pointed to the prevalence of international students at Berkeley, as well as those who have or will study or work abroad at some point, as other reasons the community should be especially cognizant of the struggles of student movements elsewhere.
Rather than necessarily being aimed at lobbying the government, the show of support was largely meant for the students themselves.
“The students wanted to get some support from abroad, some acknowledgement of the things they’re going through to create momentum and keep students engaged (with the movement),” Henderson said.
The statement was originally sent directly to the students in charge of the movement and was released on social media at their request.
Though the EAVP rarely puts out statements regarding international issues not directly related to campus, Master said this case was especially important.
“It’s a hard situation because at the end of the day our priority is students here who we were elected to serve,” Master said. “But at times like this, it’s important to make the extra effort to help someone else in their time of need when they ask us to. It’s what we would want them to do for us.”
Contact Riya Chopra at [email protected].