December 25, 2012
Joint Declaration of the Middle East Academic Personnel Association, the METU Alumni Association Council, the Education and Science Employees Union and METU Students
We, the students, the academic staff, administrative personnel and alumni make the following joint declaration.
The events that took place on December 18 were not a reaction against the ceremony held on the METU campus on the occasion of the launching of the Göktürk-2 satellite to whose design many former METU graduates contributed. Students wished to draw the attention of politicians and high-level bureaucrats to their concerns about the new draft higher education bill and intervention in Syria. However, as soon as the students began their march in campus, they were met by police violence. The METU campus, with a population of 20,000 and containing housing for its staff, a daycare centre, primary and secondary schools as well as lecture blocs, laboratories and administrative offices, was turned into a war zone and the use of tear gas and percussion bombs rendered offices, lecture rooms, laboratories and the library unusable. Educational activity was brought to a halt and the situation even became life threatening in certain buildings.
1. Violence occurs in society as a response to the failure to meet basic human rights. Our students wish to be able to live in accordance with ethical values and to express themselves freely. The University Rector’s Office has stated that the right to protest, provided such protest is not violent, does not limit the freedom of others, does not impede educational and research activities and does not damage the environment, is an inalienable part of the freedom of a university.
2. Democracy means respect for the right of people, and particularly the minorities, to life, language, culture, life style and freedom of expression. A fundamental element of democracy is that governments in particular should respect all critical ideas expressed against them.
3. Violence as a political weapon to suppress democratic rights can never be acceptable regardless of who uses it. It is to be regretted that the use of violence to crush opposition has become widespread in our country. This is contrary to democracy. Violence must never be used and methods that negatively affect life and nature must never be resorted to.
4. We wish to state that we do not find the targeting of METU by various circles compatible with democratic culture and thinking and we wish to express our concern that such targeting prepares the ground for a dangerous polarization.
5. While sharing our fundamental principles with the public, we should like once more to state that we are proud to be members of the Middle East Technical University, one of the most prestigious institutions in the country with a leading place in worldwide scientific and technological development and one which sets an example with its high quality of education, research and social responsibility. The members of METU will continue to embrace and protect the autonomy of the university.