Students of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) gathered inside the campus to denounce a road project that will lead to the demolition of part of the university’s forested area on Sept. 6. Police resorted to a brutal crackdown to quell the protests that raged throughout the day.
Students first gathered during the morning and stood in front of construction vehicles, while some protesters hugged trees to prevent their removal from the area.
The police then dispersed the group with tear gas and loaded the removed trees onto lorries. Some protesters were even kicked by riot police officers, daily Hürriyet reported.
They were joined by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies following the raid.
CHP deputies Hüseyin Aygün, İlhan Cihaner and Aylin Nazlıaka joined a group of protesters at ODTÜ and stood in front of the construction vehicles to halt the road construction.
Nazlıaka told a man who said he was the site chief that the work was unlawful, while adding that none of the workers in the area were carrying the municipality’s ID cards.
After this warning, the protesters demanded the workers show their municipality ID cards, and a scuffle between the workers and protesters took place.
Aygün then sat on the ground next to the vehicles to stop their work from continuing.
The CHP deputies’ action came after the police attacked against a group of students in construction area early in the morning on Sept. 6, ultimately detaining 14 people, including six students.
Hürriyet’s photo reporter injured
Students continued protesting and gathered once again during the afternoon, with police once again resorting to tear gas on the campus to quell the protesters.
CHP deputies Hüseyin Aygün, İlhan Cihaner and Aylin Nazlıaka joined a group of protesters at ODTÜ on Sept. 6.
Daily Hürriyet photo reporter Rıza Özel was injured after being hit in the leg by a rubber bullet fired by the police while escaping from the crackdown with the students. Özel was also struck by a stone on the head.
Police continued their attacks against the demonstrators, which included the family of killed Gezi protester Ethem Sarısülük, throughout the evening, firing multiple volleys of tear gas. Some of the gas capsules reportedly ignited fires in ODTÜ’s forested area, sending demonstrators scrambling to douse the flames.
One demonstrator was reportedly also taken to hospital after being struck in the head by a gas capsule fired by police.
Protests in solidarity were held in Kadıköy, Taksim, Eskişehir and İzmir. The protests in Taksim drew charges from police cannon, but a large number of protesters marched down İstiklal, shouting slogans in support of the resistance at ODTÜ, while also calling on the government to resign.
Ankara Metropolitan Municipality’s decision to build a road that would cross ODTÜ territory, causing the destruction of a university’s forested area, had first sparked outrage in the university last month, leading to the students taking action.
Protesters opposing the construction of a planned road project connecting the Anadolu Boulevard and the Konya Highway have been staging an “occupy protest” in the area since last month.
The ODTÜ Rector’s Office said in a written statement Sept. 4 that around 3,000 trees would be affected inside the campus due to the controversial project.
Hurriyet Daily News
6 September 2013