Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, voiced in a statement that it is not in anyone’s jurisdiction to interfere with Turkish internal matters, in relation to the student protests ongoing in Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University. The foreign minister warned external actors to not provoke illegal acts by using provocative language to entice protestors. Additionally, Çavuşoğlu underlined that the right to assembly and freedom of speech are granted to Turkish citizens, although terror-related individuals were discovered infiltrating the protests itself.
Aside from the informative statements, the foreign minister also touched upon critics of measures taken by security forces during the protests. Çavuşoğlu stated that the use of disproportionate violence by the security forces in protests in countries deemed ‘developed’ democracies are still remembered today, and that these lecturers on Turkish democracy and law need to look at themselves first. Furthermore, Turkey is determined to protect Turkish citizens’ democratic rights and freedom while also fighting against terrorism, the foreign minister added.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on 2 February that 79 of 159 people arrested during the protests were found to be members of terrorist organizations including the TKP-ML and the DHKP/C, the latter of which is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States as well.
Protests at the Boğaziçi University initially broke out against the recent appointment of a new rector. The protests later intensified when two students displayed a painting on university grounds which was deemed offensive to Islamic values.