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Report

Turkey Upheld Jail Sentence for Academics on Hunger Strike for 180 Days

Saturday 16 September 2017
Turkey Upheld Jail Sentence for Academics on Hunger Strike for 180 Days

Nuriye Gulmen (L) and Semih Ozakca staged a hunger protest in March after were sacked in a purge that followed last year’s coup attempt

Turkey refused to set free two teachers, who launched a hunger strike six months ago in protest at their dismissal from their jobs, despite growing alarm over their health.
Alwaght- Turkey refused to set free two teachers, who launched a hunger strike six months ago in protest at their dismissal from their jobs, despite growing alarm over their health.

Literature professor Nuriye Gulmen, 35, and primary school teacher Semih Ozakca, 28, were jailed late on May for launching a hunger strike that court alleged was staged on behalf of am outlawed leftist group, Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

On September 14, an Ankara court ordered the pair of educators to remain in jail, drawing condemnation among rights activist, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Neither Gulmen nor Ozakca were present at their trial on “terror” charges, with the defense saying the authorities had cited health and security grounds for not bringing them to court.

Their lawyers urged the court to release them but the judge ruled that they should remain in custody. 

The trial was adjourned to Sept. 28, with the next hearing to take place in Sincan near Ankara, where the pair are being held.

Turkish police clashed with people who were gathering outside the courtroom to support the activists teachers, with police using pepper spray on supporters and lawyers shouting slogans. Security forces arrested at leat 24 protesters.


According to the Turkish daily, before the trial started, lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) gathered outside the courthouse to make statements in support of the pair, backed by dozens of supporters.

“We will destroy this oppressive regime. Without democracy and freedom, nothing will be possible in this country,” CHP lawmaker Mahmut Tanal said. 

Police intervened to stop them, later using tear gas to roughly disperse supporters shouting: “Nuriye and Semih are not alone!”    

Around 150 lawyers turned up on Sept. 14 to show their support, but the courtroom was so full that many were unable to enter.

Beyza Gulmen, Nuriye’s sister, told daily Hurriyet that her sister was “not well.”  

“Her legs, neck and shoulders hurt. She has heart rhythm issues. She cannot walk. She is sensitive to light,” she added

Ozakça’s mother, Sultan Ozakça, said her son had difficulty walking and was experiencing similar issues as Gülmen, in addition to a “slow pulse” and “intense stomach pain.”

They have been taking only water, sugar, salt and vitamin B for since they began their hunger strike.

Almost 150,000 state employees, including civil servants, academics and security personnel, have been fired since the July coup attempt, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed on followers of US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkish officials say the purges are necessary because of the gravity of the coup attempt, which killed 240 people. Critics in Turkey and abroad say Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent and purge opponents.

 

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Turkey Purge Academics Hunger Strike Court

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