“This appointment is part of a more general trend in which academic autonomy and freedom are being eroded,” says 21-year-old EUC student Luuk. The rector was appointed by Erdogan, which caused uproar among Turkish students in Istanbul, but also here in the Netherlands. “The university is being used as a political instrument, with the government increasingly influencing academia.” The open letter states that academic autonomy must be respected and protected by the government.
Luuk is surrounded by Turkish students for whom the current situation is all too real. “Thanks to them, I’ve really realised how important it is to speak up in the freedom we experience here. I want to take part myself to make sure the unheard voices of students in Turkey are being heard.”
The small-scale protest in The Hague is part of a larger protest movement, and is mainly meant to show solidarity with students in Istanbul. “We are doing this to draw attention to this cause, but mainly to show solidarity with the students of Bogazici University,” says Luuk. “These students also staged protests in Istanbul, but those were forcibly put down by the police.”
In addition to the protest in The Hague, Luuk and his fellow students have organised an online petition, also to show solidarity with their counterparts at Bogazici University. By now this petition has already been signed more than 1,800 times. For now, this is the only action the EUC students will take, “but we will obviously keep an eye on what’s happening.”
Since Luuk hopes to go to Turkey soon, he does not wish to be identified by his surname in this article, to avoid problems. His full name is known to EM’s editorial board.