By John Oakes
The London School of Economics is under fire from Turkish Cypriots who were refused entry to a public meeting addressed by the TRNC Foreign Minister Özdil Nami. University officials claimed they were compelled to take severe safety measures because of “threats" received.
The Foreign Minister was invited to speak at the LSE about the current state of the
talks, during his visit to
where he was expected to meet with top-level officials from the British
government. The event was advertised as open to the public. London
LSE officials changed the venue at the last minute and restricted access to the talk to students and staff from
They also changed the event title to refer to Mr Nami as ‘A representative of the Turkish Cypriot community’. London University
A member of staff at LSE told T-VINE it was their “duty to protect members of the public” because an organisation had made "a credible threat” to disrupt the meeting. The police had not been informed.
It appears that a university organisation – believed to be the Hellenic Society – had objected to Mr Nami being referred to as "H.E. [His Excellency], the Foreign Minister of the
Turkish Republic of Northern ". Greek nationalists –
it is not clear if they are students or external to the university – also threatened
to disrupt the meeting if it went ahead for these same reasons. Cyprus
As a result, some 20 prominent members of the British Turkish Cypriot community were forced to cool their heels for an hour in the entrance lobby, while Greek Cypriot students subjected Minster Nami to stiff questioning during the closed meeting.
|Cetin Ramadan (R) with Konsey head Aysın Yılmaz outside Downing Street last November|
"Students have a right to protest and demonstrate – but not to interfere with the free and democratic circulation of knowledge. What happened on Tuesday night at the LSE is a prime example of the tail wagging the academic dog. The university should be teaching the values of free and fair discussion – not suspend them arbitrarily."
"If the London University is not willing to stand up to such bullies and equally, is content with disrespecting democratically elected members of the TRNC Government by refusing to call them by their proper titles, then we will urge the TRNC [authorities] to work with other organisers and venues for these political discussions about the Cyprus problem. The only loser will be
Turkish Studies department, the current sponsor.” London