Clashes erupt in ODTU campus as university returns municipality payment for removal of trees

Türkiye Materials 22 October 2013 09:12 (UTC +04:00)

Clashes have erupted on the campus of Ankara's Middle East Technical University (ODTU) between police and people gathered to protest the removal of trees for a road construction passing through the campus Hurriyetdailynews reported.

The police repeatedly used tear gas to disperse crowds on the night of Oct. 21.

Hundreds of protesters have been present on campus since the morning, attempting to plant new trees in protest at the road plans, with police interventions being staged over the course of the day.

A group responded by throwing stones, and a police helicopter flying over the scene of the incidents assisted the police teams.

A protester who allegedly damaged a municipality vehicle has been detained.

Referring to the ODTU protests, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arınc has claimed that "there is an attempt to set up incidents like the Gezi Park protests."

ODTU denies agreement with municipality

Meanwhile, ODTU has returned the money transferred by the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality for the removal of trees in its campus, denying that any agreement has been made.

"The payment transferred by the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality to ODTU, without any agreement, has been returned," stated a tweet posted by the university's official account.

Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek had earlier claimed that the municipality had paid the university the total cost of the trees, 211,000 Turkish Liras, and said they had relocated around 600 of the trees.

Road construction teams and heavy duty machines entered the ODTU campus at around 10 p.m. on the night of Oct. 18, the last day of the Feast of Sacrifice holiday, triggering protests. The university's administration has vowed to resort to legal means over the operation, saying that it lacked legal basis.