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HUNDREDS of academics, students, trade unionists, politicians and campaigners have expressed solidarity with Bogazici students and academics in Istanbul in an online day of action.
Bogazici students have been protesting against the appointment of an unelected rector by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since January 4 and have been met with police brutality and state condemnation.
Video messages of support for the resistance against the Turkish government’s interference at the university were shared on social media, including from the Morning Star, in the rally organised by Solidarity with the People of Turkey (Spot) on Sunday night.
The day of action also showcased the creative methods of protest taken on by students, including songs and artwork.
The closing panel discussion was chaired by Baroness Christine Blower and heard from writer Tariq Ali, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Bogazici academic Umut Turem, Bogazici student Olgun Dursun, University & College Union president Vicky Blake and the National Education Union’s Louise Regan.
Mr Corbyn, who recently founded the Peace & Justice project, called those resisting attacks on academic freedoms “brave.”
He said: “Academic freedom isn’t some sort of abstract philosophical concept, it is the very concept that [allows] teachers, writers, journalists, lawyers and others to act independently in a democratic society.
“If a government seeks to control all places of learning, they cease to be effective places of learning, because the innovative, creative possibilities of that thinking is destroyed by people being placed in position by a government that doesn’t want any opposition and doesn’t want any creative thought.”
Mr Corbyn said that he had been following the protests and that many people around the world were “looking on shocked at what’s been happening but totally in support of everything you are trying to achieve in demanding and asserting your right to democratic freedoms and initiatives.
“Our message today is that we’re here in support of all of you, but there’s also a wider message. I want to live in a world of peace, I want to live in a world of justice, I want to live in a world of environmental sustainability.
“And I know that that is only going to be possible if the generation that is now growing up, that is seeking its place, that is undertaking its education, that is learning so much about the world, are able to express that, so that we can create an environmentally sustainable world.”
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